Fact Sheet: Why environmental groups are challenging EPA’s decision regarding California’s emissions standards

Environment America and other environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the EPA challenging the agency’s decision to take away California’s authority to impose stronger vehicular greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution regulations than the federal government.

This fact sheet was prepared for members of the media interested in the litigation against the Environmental Protection Agency over its rollback of clean car standards.

  • On November 22, 2019, Environment America and a coalition of 10 other nonprofit organizations filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s revocation of California’s authority to set its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions. This lawsuit follows the lawsuits filed by California and others on November 15 challenging the same action.

  • California has regulated the emissions of air pollutants from motor vehicles since 1959 — four years before Congress enacted the Clean Air Act. In 1967, Congress amended the Clean Air Act to ensure that California, in addition to the federal government, could continue to regulate vehicle emissions. The statute directs federal officials to waive application of preemption to California’s air pollution regulations.

  • EPA has granted waivers of preemption authorizing California to set its own emissions standards for vehicles of every model year since 1969.

  • In 1977, Congress added a provision to the Clean Air Act that allows states to follow California’s standards instead of the federal standards. Currently, 13 states and the District of Columbia have chosen to adopt California’s standards.

  • In January 2013, EPA granted California’s waiver request that included its Advanced Clean Cars program and set emissions standards through 2025.

  • In September 2019, EPA published a final rule that purports to revoke the January 2013 waiver for California’s Advanced Clean Cars program with respect to that program’s greenhouse gas emissions zero emission vehicle mandate.

  • Prior to this action, EPA has never attempted to revoke a waiver for California’s vehicle carbon pollution standards.

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