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At Every Turn, We Will Defend Our Nations Clean Car Emissions Standards

Governor Brown, Attorney General Becerra, and California Air Resources Board:

At Every Turn, We Will Defend Our Nation’s Clean Car Emissions Standards

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Mary D. Nichols today expressed their strong opposition to the proposed rule from the Trump Administration that would eviscerate the current greenhouse gas emission standards for model year 2021-2026 vehicles and put in place weakened emission and fuel efficiency standards at the expense of public health, the economy and the environment.

Instead of adopting maximum feasible standards to increase vehicle fuel efficiency, as federal law requires, the Administration is moving to freeze the standards at the 2020 level through model year 2026Similarly, rather than addressing the pressing threat of climate change as the Clean Air Act mandates, the Administration is moving to freeze greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles for those same years. 

If enacted, this proposal will cost consumers billions of dollars in additional gasoline to run less efficient cars and light-duty trucks. It will also degrade air quality and put millions of additional tons of climate-disrupting pollution into the atmosphere. The Trump Administration is also proposing to withdraw the waiver granted to California more than five years ago for the State’s own greenhouse gas emissions standards and its successful zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) programs— an unprecedented and unlawful action that flies in the face of congressional intent and would aggravate the harms to consumers, public health, and the environment caused by the weakening of the federal standards. The Administration proposal would also block the many other states that use California standards from moving forward.

“For Trump to now destroy a law first enacted at the request of Ronald Reagan five decades ago is a betrayal and an assault on the health of Americans everywhere,” said Governor Brown. “Under his reckless scheme, motorists will pay more at the pump, get worse gas mileage and breathe dirtier air. California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible.”  

“The Trump Administration has launched a brazen and unlawful attack on our nation’s Clean Car Standards. The California Department of Justice will use every legal tool at its disposal to fight back,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Our nation’s Clean Car Standards save consumers thousands of dollars, protect our families’ health, and ensure that we continue tackling climate change, the most important global environmental issue of our time. We are ready to do what is necessary to hold this Administration accountable.” 

“At first glance, this proposal completely misrepresents costs and savings. It also relies on bizarre assumptions about consumer behavior to make its case on safety,” said California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols. “CARB will examine all 978 pages of fine print to figure out how the Administration can possibly justify its absurd conclusion that weakening standards to allow dirtier, less efficient vehicles will actually save lives and money. Stay tuned for further comment. Meantime, California remains fully committed to a rigorous 50-state program with a full range of vehicle choices. That program is in effect right now and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

Additional statements from Attorneys General across the country are available.

Background

In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), CARBand car manufacturers established a unified national program harmonizing greenhouse gas emission standards and fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards, and in 2012 the agencies extended the national program to model years 2017-2025 vehicles. As part of the program, California and the federal agencies agreed to undertake a mid-term evaluation to determine if the greenhouse gas emission standards for model years 2022-202vehicles should be maintained or revised

In January 2017, the EPA completed the mid-term evaluation by issuing a final determination, affirming that the existing standards were appropriate and would not be changed. The EPA arrived at this conclusion based on an extensive record it developed in conjunction with CARB. CARB confirmed in March 2017 that the agreed-upon standards for model years 2022-2025 were appropriate and feasible.

On April 13, 2018, however, the Trump Administration took the first step toward dismantling the national program when it issued a revised final determination that alleged the federal greenhouse gas standards for model year 2022-2025 vehicles were no longer appropriate. The Administration failed to provide any appropriate or relevant evidence for its arbitrary and capricious revision of its previous mid-term evaluation. Leading a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia, Governor Brown, Attorney General Becerra, and CARB sued the EPA on May 1, 2018 over the EPA’s April 13th action.

At present, the car industry is on track to meet or exceed the clean car standards at issue.

The federal Clean Air Act (CAA) preserves California’s authority to set its own stricter-than-federal vehicle emissions regulations to address the State’s extraordinary air quality challenges and because it had vehicle air quality regulations on its books predating the CAA and EPA. Since then, CARB has adopted, implemented, and enforced a wide array of nation-leading air pollution controls, based on a strong foundation of science and reflecting a longstanding partnership with federal air quality regulators. Its pollution control strategies have proven to be a model for other states, the nation, and other countries.

The ability of other states to adopt California standards, as long as they are as or more stringent than federal standards, is written into the CAA Section 177.

CARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The CARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.