Attorney General Becerra Testifies in Defense of America’s Clean Car Standards

Monday, September 24, 2018
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

FRESNO — This morning, Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined officials from around California to testify in defense of the nation’s proven, existing vehicle emissions standards at a public hearing in Fresno, California. Attorney General Becerra delivered remarks opposing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rollback of America’s Clean Car Standards.

Full remarks are included below:   

Good morning. I am Xavier Becerra, Attorney General for the State of California.

Our state is about progress and 21st-century innovation and technology. It is not about backsliding into last century’s old way of doing business.

We have become the world’s fifth-largest economy by doing what’s right. For decades, we have pursued clean technology that has reduced harmful emissions, saved lives, and grown our economy.

It has led to results. Take today’s Ford F-150 pickup truck, the best-selling vehicle in America. In 2018, it earned a five-star safety rating. Today’s F-150 is 35% more efficient than it was in 2000. It gets better gas mileage than the 2010 Ford Taurus. 

In California, we’ve set ambitious goals when it comes to electric vehicles – a far cry from the ’68 Buick Riviera I drove while in high school that got 11 miles per gallon. In August, ten percent of all cars sold in our state were electric vehicles, an all-time high. 

We don’t do this because it’s easy or it feels good.

We do it because 26 percent of school-aged children here in the San Joaquin Valley suffer from asthma. We do it because the five largest fires in California history occurred in the last five years.

That’s why California cannot retreat in the fight against climate change. We must continue to tackle the number-one source of greenhouse gas emissions: our vehicles. 

Stopping us from protecting our people, our jobs and economy, or our planet, is like trying to stop a mother from protecting her child.

California hasn’t been shy about taking action against any backsliding on clean air. The facts, science, and rule of law are on our side. Our 14 victories in court rulings from our 24 environmental lawsuits to date against the federal government speak to that. 

California is prepared to prove that EPA's and NHTSA’s proposed rollback of our national Clean Car Standards violates federal law.

For one, both federal agencies have failed to give us the technical data and time we need to comment on this proposal, and that's what we’re entitled to by law.

Moreover, the law requires agencies to set the “maximum feasible level” for fuel-efficiency standards based on technology available today and technology that will be available in 2021 to 2026, among other factors. Instead, your agencies have proposed standards far below what California has already proven to be feasible.

And finally, the law requires that agencies need to offer sound reasons for their backsliding. Neither EPA nor NHTSA has.

This Administration isn’t just dismantling the federal vehicle emissions program. It is also coming after California’s authority to set its own vehicle emissions standards. 

Congress granted and reaffirmed our right to set tougher vehicle emissions standards. We’ve obtained more than 100 waiver actions in the past 40 years, and the EPA has revoked none.

Those who claim to support “states’ rights” should make sure they’re not trampling on ours.

My message to the federal government: Do your job. Withdraw this proposal. Fulfill your duty under federal law to protect all Californians and Americans from harmful greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve energy.

Do no harm. Stop trying to interfere with the rights granted to California and other states by the Constitution and the Congress.

With every day bringing America news of extreme weather and devastating consequences, this is not a time to backslide on our responsibilities. We have a chance to move our country forward together under our proven, existing, and achievable national Clean Car Standards. We should seize that opportunity.

Thank you.

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