Brown Signs on to Agreement for Nationwide Adoption of California's Vehicle Emissions Standards

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Washington, DC – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed on to an “historic agreement” between the Obama Administration, the State of California and automakers that will lead to the nationwide adoption of California’s stringent vehicle emissions standards.

Under the agreement, the federal government will require a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. This will mean that U.S. motor vehicles will be required to achieve a fleetwide standard of approximately 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, four years earlier than federal law requires.

This is the first greenhouse gas emission limit by the federal government, and it is the direct result of California's action to control tailpipe emissions.

“This is an historic agreement that will lead to a 30 percent reduction in motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions nationwide,” Brown said. “This agreement brings an end to a five-year legal battle; it means that automakers finally recognize that their future depends on making cleaner and more efficient vehicles.”

For over 40 years, California has had authority under the Clean Air Act to set stricter standards than the federal government for automobile emissions. Other states have been permitted to adopt those tougher standards for the past 30 years.

In 2005, California applied its authority to greenhouse gas emissions, adopting standards that require a 30 percent reduction in global warming emissions from vehicles by 2016. Fourteen states adopted identical regulations.

The automobile industry attacked California’s standards at every turn, challenging them in both state and federal court.

Brown has staunchly and successfully defended California’s law against these challenges, provided assistance to Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Mexico whose laws were also challenged, and sued Bush Administration’s EPA for denying California’s waiver.

Brown expects EPA will act quickly to grant California’s waiver. Once the waiver is granted, the state will consider compliance with a substantially similar federal standard to be compliance with California’s standard.

There are 32 million registered vehicles in California, twice the number of any other state. Cars generate 20% of human-made carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, and at least 30% of such emissions in California.

A copy of Brown's letter outlining his understanding of the agreement it attached.

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