Statement: EPA returns authority to California and 16 other states to limit pollution from cars, trucks

Media Contacts

Decision allows California to retain stronger-than-federal clean car standards, continue to cut global warming exhaust from vehicles

Environment California

SAN FRANCISCO — To promote clean air and expedite a reduction of transportation emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it would restore California’s clean cars waiver under the Clean Air Act. The waiver allows California to enforce its stricter Advanced Clean Cars program, and lets other states with air pollution problems choose to adopt those stronger rules. This action undoes the Trump administration’s attempt to block states from setting stronger tailpipe emissions standards than the federal government. 

Vehicle tailpipes are a major source of health-harming air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In 2020, 38.6 million Californians — more than 98% of the population – were exposed to more than one month of elevated levels of ozone and/or fine particulate pollution.

Environment California and CALPIRG had called on the Biden administration to strengthen federal fuel economy and vehicle emission standards – and restore states’ authority to determine their own position on this issue – in their “First Things to Fix” report, which outlined 20 environmental protections the president should enact at the start of his term. California was the first of 17 states that have adopted the Advanced Clean Cars program. 

Experts from Environment California and CALPIRG issued the following statement:

“California has blazed trails for other states to follow on climate action and air pollution for decades,” said Environment California state director, Laura Deehan. “The Trump administration’s decision to block California from accelerating our way to cleaner air threatened public health. Thank you, EPA Administrator Michael Regan, for reaffirming that our state can and should lead the way for clean air and clean cars.”

“Transportation pollution is the nation’s largest source of global warming emissions, and it puts the health of all Americans at risk,” said Jenn Engstrom, CALPIRG state director. “Letting California set vehicle emission standards that support our clean air and climate goals is not only the right thing to do, but it will also help bolster the market for cleaner cars, benefiting all Americans.”



Environment California works for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the state put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy.


CALPIRG is an advocate for the public interest. We speak out for a healthier, safer world in which we’re freer to pursue our own individual well-being and the common good.