EPA Restores States’ Stronger Standards

California and other states following its lead can now enforce their stricter auto emissions standards once again. 

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restored the Clean Air Act waiver permitting states to enforce a tougher standard than the federal minimum. That authority had been in place for decades until the Trump Administration sought to revoke it. The Biden Administration followed through on its promise to restore that authorization.

“Today we proudly reaffirm California’s longstanding authority to lead in addressing pollution from cars and trucks,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan, North Carolina’s former environmental secretary. “Our partnership with states to confront the climate crisis has never been more important. With today’s action, we reinstate an approach that for years has helped advance clean technologies and cut air pollution for people not just in California, but for the U.S. as a whole.”

Former EPA Administrator and national League of Conservation Voters Board Chair Carol M. Browner said, “The Biden-Harris EPA’s decision to restore states’ ability to strengthen clean car standards is especially welcome news as international conflict drives up the price of oil and gasoline. We’re thrilled that Administrator Regan and the Biden-Harris EPA listened to the public and will restore the ability of states to set stronger emissions standards than the federal ones. Comprehensive clean car standards make it possible for states — and in turn, the whole country — to drive down vehicle pollution which unfairly burdens vulnerable communities in high traffic congestion areas, end U.S. reliance on dangerous, dirty and unreliable fossil fuels, and build a more just and equitable clean energy future.”

“States have long been leaders in cleaning up tailpipe pollution, and the EPA is absolutely right to recognize this. State leadership is crucial to move our nation toward cleaner vehicles,” said Luke Tonachel, director for clean vehicles and fuels at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “While the previous administration tried to undermine this authority, the law clearly gives California and other states the ability to adopt standards to curb the pollution affecting the health of their citizens. Reaffirming this legal authority will protect public health and help address the climate crisis.”

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