EPA Moves to Restore States’ Unlawfully Withdrawn Ability to Set Clean Car Standards

April 26, 2021
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – April 26, 2021) The Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it will reconsider the Trump Administration’s unlawful decision to revoke states’ clean car authority.

EPA’s proposal follows on the heels of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposal to rescind the Trump administration’s rule that wrongly declared California’s state greenhouse gas and zero emission vehicle standards to be preempted by federal law.

“This is an important step toward restoring states’ long-standing authority to address pollution, including climate pollution, from cars and SUVs,” said EDF senior attorney Alice Henderson. “States are doing vital work to protect people from unhealthy motor vehicle pollution. We urge the Biden administration to swiftly finalize its actions to make sure the states can continue that work, reduce dangerous pollution, and create more good American jobs.”

The notice that EPA released today proposes to reinstate the Clean Air Act waiver for California’s Advanced Clean Car program. EPA issued that waiver in 2013. Then, under a flawed legal theory, the Trump administration revoked the waiver for the greenhouse gas and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standards that are part of California’s program.

The Trump administration attack on state authority was vigorously challenged in federal court by 23 states, U.S. cities and local governments, major power and transportation sector businesses, and public health and environmental organizations including EDF.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted California’s greenhouse gas and ZEV standards to reduce pollution, improve air quality, and reap the economic and jobs benefits of cleaning up the transportation sector. Several other states – including Minnesota, New Mexico, and Nevada – are considering adopting these standards as well. Once finalized, EPA’s restoration of the California waiver will clear the way for states to again implement these life-saving pollution standards.

EPA’s notice today opens a public comment period through July 6, with a public hearing scheduled for June 2.

EDF is also urging the Biden administration to adopt national pollution standards that ensure all passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. are zero-emitting by 2035 and all medium- and heavy-duty trucks are zero-emitting by 2040, with accelerated action in urban and community applications. These actions can help ensure that we achieve a fully zero-emission transportation sector by 2050.

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