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

Media Contacts
Josh Chetwynd

Kelly Flanigan

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


Philadelphia, PA — 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 like Pennsylvania to 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, millions of Pennsylvanians  were exposed to elevated levels of ozone and/or fine particulate pollution an average of one day a week.

PennEnvironment 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. Pennsylvania is one of 17 states that have adopted the Advanced Clean Cars program. 

PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur  issued the following statement in response to the announcement:

“With millions of Pennsylvanians living in places where it’s often considered unsafe to breathe the air, today’s decision will loom large in our efforts to ensure cleaner air for the state’s residents, and attack climate pollution head-on.

“Today’s decision is a reminder that by putting the pedal to the metal in promoting the transition to clean vehicles, we can dramatically reduce Pennsylvania’s — and the nation’s — air pollution and climate pollution. The Trump administration blocked the states from taking action, which was a reckless decision that threatened public health.

“Thank you, EPA Administrator Michael Regan, for reaffirming that states can and should lead the way for clean air and cleaner cars.”

PennPIRG Advocate, Emma Horst-Martz made the following statement: 

“Transportation pollution is the nation’s largest source of global warming emissions, and it puts the health of all Pennsylvanians at risk.

”Letting states like ours 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 Pennsylvanians.”