OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) today led a coalition of 22 attorneys general, as well as the cities of Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose, in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to restore California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act for its greenhouse gas and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) programs. The coalition also supports the EPA’s proposal to rescind its previous determination that Section 177 of the Clean Air Act does not authorize other states to adopt California’s greenhouse gas standards for passenger cars and light trucks. California’s standards, which already result in emissions reductions of hundreds of thousands of tons annually, are essential components of California's and other states' plans to fight climate change and protect public health.
“Putting cleaner cars on the road isn’t just some abstract tool in the fight against climate change. It has tangible benefits – right here, right now – for some of our most vulnerable communities,” said Attorney General Bonta. “California cities have some of the worst air quality in the nation, despite significant improvements in recent decades. What that means is millions of Californians are breathing dirty air and suffering from the resulting health consequences. That's unacceptable. As the People's Attorney, I'm committed to protecting communities that live at the intersection of poverty and pollution. I hope the EPA will be a partner in this effort – and move swiftly to reaffirm California’s longstanding authority to set its own vehicle emissions standards."
“California’s pioneering vehicle emissions standards have paved the way for states across the nation to clean the air, protect public health and foster breakthrough advancements for a new generation of vehicles,” said Governor Newsom. “The previous administration’s attack on California’s decades-long right to set its own standards is unprecedented, unscientific and cannot stand. California looks forward to working with the Biden Administration to get more zero-emission vehicles on the road with this critical tool to combat the climate crisis.”
“Against all scientific evidence, the Trump Administration took it upon itself to undermine California’s legal authority under the Clean Air Act to set state vehicle emission standards to address its pressing air pollution and climate challenges,” said CARB Chair Liane M. Randolph. “California’s standards were adopted in concert with the Obama Administration to help curb the worst impacts of climate change and protect public health, especially in overburdened communities. We urge the Biden Administration to move quickly to reverse U.S. EPA’s illegal action.”
Sixty years ago, California was a pioneer in adopting vehicle emission standards — long before any federal vehicle emission standards even existed. Since then, California has been granted more than 100 waivers, including in 2013 when the EPA granted California a waiver for its Advanced Clean Car program. Six years later, under the Trump Administration, the EPA withdrew California’s waiver to set its own greenhouse gas and ZEV standards, which a California-led coalition swiftly challenged in court. Litigation in that case is currently stayed to permit the current EPA to reconsider.
California’s clean car standards have been adopted by thirteen states, representing more than one-third of the U.S. automobile market, and are currently under consideration in a number of others. These standards, which have been implemented in some states for more than a decade, are essential components of state plans to reduce emissions and attain federally mandated National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter and ozone — two pollutants which cause significant adverse health impacts. According to CARB analysis, California’s Advanced Clean Car Program, of which it's greenhouse gas and ZEV standards are critical components, is expected to result in a 75% reduction in smog-forming pollution and a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for an average car sold in 2025, as compared to 2012 when the program was adopted. California's standards are not only crucial for reducing emissions now to mitigate the threats Californians face from climate change, including severe droughts and extreme wildfires — they also drive technological innovation that will enable deeper emissions reductions of all of these harmful pollutants in the future.
Attorney General Bonta and CARB Chair Randolph are joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia, as well as the cities of Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose.
A copy of the comment letter can be found here.