Attorney General Bonta, Governor Newsom, CARB Lead Coalition in Defense of Federal GHG Standards for Light-Duty Vehicles

Tuesday, March 8, 2022
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OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) today, leading a coalition of 27 attorneys general and cities, filed a motion to intervene in defense of federal greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) standards for light-duty vehicles. The transportation sector accounts for nearly one-third of all GHG emissions in the United States, and light-duty vehicles account for nearly 60% of those transportation sector emissions. As part of efforts to reduce emissions from this sector, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized more stringent GHG standards for model years 2023 to 2026 passenger cars and light trucks. Attorney General Bonta and CARB led a multistate coalition in urging the EPA to adopt such standards, and a similar coalition now seeks to join the EPA in defending these standards from challenges filed by several states and petroleum industry groups, among others.

“Right now, we’re at a crossroads: Do we sit back and accept the status quo, or do we step up and fight to save our planet?” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “The Biden Administration’s recently finalized standards are a critical component of federal efforts to reduce emissions from the transportation sector. Unfortunately, they are under attack. As Attorney General and as a father, I won't back down from this fight. It's going to take all of us, doing our part, to tackle the climate crisis and address climate change's inequitable impacts.” 

“Californians are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and we’ll fight for commonsense policies – like emissions standards – that prevent pollution and protect our communities,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “This effort is vital if we’re serious about avoiding the worst climate impacts in our state and in the world, and anything less is simply not enough.”

“The lawsuits challenging the Biden Administration's restored greenhouse gas emissions requirements are a bad idea. They are another attempt to take the country backwards in the battle against climate change," said CARB Chair Liane M. Randolph. "California has fought this fight before and we know that the Biden standards are solidly based in science, the technological capabilities of American industry, and concern for public health. We stand with U.S. EPA to defend these federal emission standards. They align with where the automobile industry is headed and the needs of the American people and will, without question help clean the air, protect those most victimized by a changing climate and poor air quality and will provide a critical tool for ensuring a better world for our children."

The EPA's GHG standards for light-duty vehicles are critical — for reducing emissions, improving air quality, and protecting public health. By 2050, the EPA estimates that the standards will reduce GHG emissions by 3.1 billion metric tons, as well as reduce emissions of particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide – two pollutants which cause significant adverse health impacts – by 14,700 tons and 60,200 tons respectively. Conservatively, the standards are expected to result in between $120 billion and $190 billion of total net benefits.

In today's motion to intervene, the coalition argues that the GHG standards are critically important to states, which are already experiencing the economic, public health, and environmental impacts of climate change. 

Attorney General Bonta and CARB have supported the Biden Administration’s efforts to reduce emissions from the transportation sector and encouraged it to reaffirm California's authority to do the same. This summer, Attorney General Bonta testified, and later submitted comments, urging the EPA to restore California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act for its GHG and zero emission vehicle standards. The Attorney General and CARB also led a coalition in urging NHTSA to repeal a Trump-era rule, known as the “Preemption Rule,” that purported to preempt California’s GHG and zero-emission-vehicles standards. On December 21, 2021, NHTSA announced a repeal of that rule. Most recently, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition in urging the EPA to swiftly adopt strong regulations limiting oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions from heavy-duty trucks.

In filing the motion, Attorney General Bonta, Governor Newsom, and CARB are joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, as well as the cities of Denver, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco and the counties of Denver and San Francisco.  

A copy of the motion can be found here.

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