Statement: EPA restores California’s ability to limit pollution from cars

Media Contacts
Josh Chetwynd

Morgan Hayward

Former Director, Destination: Zero Carbon, Environment America

Decision allows 17 states to reinstate stronger-than-federal clean car standards

Environment America

WASHINGTON — To promote clean air and expedite a reduction of transportation emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday that it’s reinstating California’s clean cars waiver. The waiver, which was created under the Clean Air Act, allows California and other states with air pollution problems to enforce a stricter Advanced Clean Cars program. This decision reverses a Trump administration attempt to prohibit states from establishing stronger tailpipe emissions standards than the federal government. 

Vehicle tailpipes are an alarming source of health-harming air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In 2020, 237.6 million Americans – more than 70% of the population – were exposed to more than a month of heightened levels of ozone and/or fine particulate pollution.

Environment America and U.S. PIRG expressed the importance of enhancing federal fuel economy and vehicle emissions standards, calling for the Biden administration to make it a priority in their “First Things to Fix” report. That report outlined 20 environmental protections President Joe Biden needed to address at the start of his first term. California’s Advanced Clean Cars program has been adopted by 16 other states.

Experts from Environment America and U.S. PIRG issued the following statement:

“While we expected this decision, it makes it no less sweet,” said Environment America Destination: Zero Carbon Campaign Director Morgan Folger. “California was a trailblazer with this vital standard. It’s proved so popular that 16 other states had already embraced it. So when the Trump administration stopped those states from taking important action that can improve public health and climate, it ran counter to what Americans desire. We are grateful to EPA Administrator Michael Regan for now giving the people what they want – cleaner air and cleaner cars.”

“Anybody who has spent an hour on a freeway with cars belching toxic tailpipe emissions knows that the way we currently approach transportation puts Americans’ health at risk,” said Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG Environment Campaigns director. “We must give states the ability to aggressively address this problem through forward-thinking vehicle emission standards. It can be a difference maker for delivering cleaner air and a safer climate. Simply put, cleaner cars means a better America.”