EPA Should Grant California Waiver for “Critical Health and Climate Protections” from Transportation Pollution – EDF Testimony

January 11, 2024
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718, sstein@edf.org

(January 11, 2024) An Environmental Defense Fund expert joined dozens of others in a packed, all-day virtual hearing yesterday in support of an EPA waiver for California’s Advanced Clean Cars II rule, which ensures all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the state will be zero-emitting by 2035.

“California’s Advanced Clean Cars II rule provides critical health and climate protections, and it is important that EPA affords full effect to these life-saving standards,” said EDF Transportation Attorney Eric Wriston in his testimony last night. “These ACC II standards will save lives, reduce harmful air and climate pollution, save Californians money, and deliver jobs.”

The transportation sector is the largest source of climate pollution in the U.S. and a main source of harmful pollutants that cause smog and damage human health. California has long-standing authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own protective standards for air pollution from cars and trucks with a preemption waiver from EPA. Over the last half century, California has been granted more than 50 waivers for successful programs to reduce transportation pollution. The Clean Air Act also allows other states to opt-in to California’s program. Eleven other states have already adopted Advanced Clean Cars II, and three more are in the rulemaking process.

California’s leadership and recent federal investments in the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure law have helped to spur an electric vehicle market poised to meet these standards and save people money while doing so. A report by EDF and WSP showed that $165 billion in electric vehicle investments and almost 180,000 new U.S. jobs have been announced in the last eight years, with more than 56% of those announcements happening since passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022. Another EDF and WSP report compared select electric vehicles to the cost of comparable gasoline vehicles and found that all the models studied were equally or less expensive to own, with savings totaling more than $18,000 for some models.

In May, the California Air Resources Board notified EPA that it had adopted the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) regulations for new cars and passenger trucks starting with model year 2026, and formally requested that EPA grant a waiver. EPA held yesterday’s public hearing as part of the process of deciding whether to agree to California’s request.

“Near-term vehicle emissions reductions are vital to mitigating the effects of climate change and protecting public health, especially the health of low-income communities and communities of color disproportionately impacted by transportation air pollution,” Wriston testified. “The life-saving standards adopted by California and many other states are critical to curbing … pollution and moving toward an emissions-free future. We urge EPA to grant the waiver given its manifest consistency with Clean Air Act requirements and the extensive benefits it will provide to Californians.”

You can read Wriston’s full testimony here.

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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) 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 3 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