Attorney General Bonta, Governor Newsom, and CARB Chair Randolph Issue Statements Following Oral Arguments in Three Critical Environmental Cases

Friday, September 15, 2023
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OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Liane Randolph today issued the following statements in response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia hearing oral arguments in Ohio v. EPA, a case challenging California’s ability to enforce its Advanced Clean Cars Standards and other standards for emissions from new motor vehicles. The court also heard argument on two cases yesterday challenging federal vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards. 

"The attacks on California’s long-standing efforts to address vehicle pollution of all kinds are misguided and misplaced," said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Vehicle pollution continues to be a pressing problem in California. I’m grateful that my team was in court this week vigorously defending California’s leadership on clean air.”

“Governor Ronald Reagan created the nation’s first clean air regulator here in California, and President Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act to preserve our right to keep driving efforts to cut pollution,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “But the Republicans of today reject the idea that pollution is bad and clean air is good, trying to use the courts to legislate their backwards ideology. We’re going to fight like hell to preserve that once-bipartisan tradition and leave our communities better off for our kids and their grandkids.” 

“Congress has long preserved California’s ability to regulate vehicle emissions within the state and provide solutions to communities that for decades have endured some of the worst pollution in the nation,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph. “Our regulations have propelled innovation in vehicle-emission control technologies that help clean the air Californians breathe. We look forward to the court affirming more than 50 years of that Congressional choice.”

Background on Oral Arguments This Week:


In Ohio v. EPA, Ohio, other states, and the fuel industry are challenging California's right to request, under the Clean Air Act, a waiver of preemption from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce California-specific emission standards for new motor vehicles that are different from federal standards. In response to significant air quality challenges, California began regulating vehicle emissions more than 60 years ago, prior to the federal government. Congress has long preserved and repeatedly reaffirmed the state’s authority to regulate these emissions pursuant to a waiver. Moreover, since the 1960s, EPA has granted California over 75 preemption waivers, leading to improvements in air quality and widespread adoption of innovations ranging from the catalytic converter to electric and other zero-emission vehicles. Many other states have adopted California’s standards as well.  

In 2019, for the first time in the history of the program, the Trump Administration withdrew a previously granted waiver that had allowed California to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and require the sale of a certain percentage of zero-emission-vehicles. The Biden Administration reinstated the waiver in 2022. California led a multistate coalition intervening in support of EPA against challenges to that decision and the waiver provision more generally. Deputy Attorney General Elaine Meckenstock presented oral argument today for state intervenors, including the State of California. 


Yesterday, the court heard oral argument in Texas v. EPA, a challenge brought by certain states and fuel-industry groups to federal limits for greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light-duty trucks, set by EPA. The court also heard oral argument in NRDC v. NHTSA, a separate challenge — brought by similar interests — to fuel-economy standards for gasoline-powered automobiles, set by the U.S. Department of Transportation under a different statute.

The automobile industry is on pace to easily meet or surpass the requirements of both sets of standards, as well as California’s standards, in part through continuing increases in the number of electric vehicles on the market.

In both cases, California led multistate coalitions intervening in support of the federal government to ensure that the agencies are able to require meaningful improvements in emissions and fuel economy in the future. In NRDC v. NHTSA, Deputy Attorney General Theodore McCombs presented oral argument for state intervenors, including the State of California.

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