Attorney General Becerra, Governor Newsom, and CARB Chair Nichols Blast Trump Administration Attempt to Rob California’s Legal Authority to Set Emission Standards

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols today vowed to fight any action by the Trump Administration to revoke California’s waiver to establish vehicle emissions standards for greenhouse gas emissions and standards to require manufacturers to sell zero emissions vehicles. These standards are vital to curbing emissions and addressing air quality issues and the climate crisis.

“As President Trump arrives in California to rake in campaign cash, his Administration is preparing to announce his desperate plan to rob our state of its long-standing authority to set vehicle emissions standards. To those who claim to support states’ rights – don’t trample on ours,” said Attorney General Becerra. “In California, we can’t afford to backslide to the days of dirty air and unregulated emissions. For us, this is about survival. Our communities are screaming for help to address the new normal of devastating droughts and superstorms, wildfires and mudslides. Unlike the Trump Administration, we won’t run scared from global warming. And when you endanger our people, our economy, or our planet, we rise with the full force of the law behind us.”

“While the White House is abdicating its responsibility to the rest of the world on cutting emissions and fighting global warming, California is stepping up. In July, we came to landmark voluntary agreements with four major automakers to reduce vehicle emissions and oppose Washington’s rollback of clean air standards. We are showing it can be done,” said Governor Newsom. “The President could learn from California. Instead, he is acting on a political vendetta by announcing his intention to end aspects of our clean car waiver. It’s a move that could have devastating consequences for our kids’ health and the air we breathe, if California were to roll over. But we will not – we will fight this latest attempt and defend our clean car standards. California, global markets, and Mother Nature will prevail.”

“For the first time in its 50-year history, the US Environmental Protection Agency is trying to stop states from taking reasonable actions to cut smog,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Shame on the Trump Administration for putting the health of millions of its citizens at risk for absolutely no reason.”

Under the federal Clean Air Act, California may set its own vehicle emissions standards that are at least as protective as the federal government’s standards. California retains this authority in order to address the extraordinary and compelling air pollution issues affecting the state. Other states may also choose to adopt these standards.

As part of the process, California is required to obtain a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Over the past 50 years, the EPA has granted 100 waivers for California standards. Thanks to those standards, the state has reduced emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons annually, encouraged the development of emission controls technologies, and contributed to stronger federal standards. 

In January 2012, California, through CARB, adopted its comprehensive Advanced Clean Car Program for model years 2017 through 2025. The program combines the control of smog-causing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions into a single coordinated package of standards. The rules save drivers money at the pump, reduce air pollution, and curb greenhouse gases.

In 2013, EPA granted California a waiver for the Advanced Clean Car Program. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia follow at least a portion of the Advanced Clean Car Program.

The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are preparing to announce a plan to revoke California’s authority for its greenhouse gas and zero emission vehicle standards, using a tired and unsuccessful argument that the waiver is preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. This argument has been rejected by Congress, the courts, and by the EPA itself.  EPA’s revocation arguments under the Clean Air Act fare no better, departing, as they do, from the purpose, structure, and plain text of the Act.

Attorney General Becerra — with other California leaders including Governor Gavin Newsom and CARB Chair Mary Nichols — leads a coalition of states, cities, and counties opposing President Trump’s plan and any weakening of the Clean Car Standards.

The coalition stands strong to defend our nation’s Clean Car Standards as well as California’s strict limits on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and its Zero Emission Vehicles program, both of which protect the health and safety of its residents.

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