Biden Administration Moves to Restore State Clean Car Authority

April 22, 2021
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718,

(Washington, D.C. – April 22, 2021) The Biden administration just took the first step toward restoring state authority to protect Americans from the harmful pollution from cars and passenger trucks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a proposal to rescind a Trump administration rule that wrongly declared California’s state greenhouse gas and zero emission vehicle standards to be preempted by federal law.

“Today’s proposal is a welcome step toward repealing the Trump administration’s unlawful attempt to override states’ rightful authority to protect people from harmful motor vehicle pollution,” said EDF senior attorney Alice Henderson. “California has played a time-tested role in establishing standards that reduce the harmful pollution from cars and trucks. These standards, which have longstanding bipartisan support, have helped to unlock technological advances that have had critical health and climate benefits in the state, across the country, and around the world.”

President Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office that directed EPA and NHTSA to consider publishing, by April of 2021, “a proposed rule suspending, revising, or rescinding” the Trump administration’s 2019 attack on state authority. Today’s proposal would take NHTSA’s preemption rule off the books on the grounds that issuance of the rule was improper under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. EPA is expected to soon issue a notice proposing to reinstate California’s Clean Air Act waiver for the greenhouse gas and zero-emission vehicle standards.

The Biden administration’s full restoration of traditional state authority to address motor vehicle pollution will help America address our growing climate crisis, and reduce vehicle pollution that results in more than 20,000 premature deaths each year. California and other states will be able to again implement standards that will meet these public health crises, which disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color.

California has served as a testing ground for innovation in emission control for over 50 years, with programs that have incentivized the development of technologies that have been deployed across the country and the globe. The state is now embarking on the process of setting the next generation of Advanced Clean Car standards, which have the potential to accelerate deployment of zero-emitting vehicles. EDF is also encouraging the Biden administration to move forward swiftly with federal emission standards and investments in high-quality domestic jobs to eliminate pollution from new passenger vehicles by 2035 and move the country toward a fully zero-emission transportation sector by 2050.

# # #

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund ( creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 2.5 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund