Moms are ready to drive forward—in cleaner cars.
In a major step forward for cleaner cars, EPA has announced its intention to reinstate long-standing authority for states to set their own greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks. This announcement opens the first public docket for EPA under Michael Regan’s leadership.
This welcome move would once again give California—and any states that choose to adopt California’s standards—permission to set stricter climate pollution standards for cars and light trucks, reversing a Trump administration policy. The announcement came days after the Department of Transportation also withdrew a Trump-era rollback of state car pollution rules. Taken together, these actions show positive progress on the Biden administration’s efforts to clean up pollution from the transportation sector, the nation’s leading source of climate-warming carbon pollution.
Under the Clean Air Act, other states may adopt California’s car standards, and many have. These are referred to as “Section 177” states, named after the relevant section of the Clean Air Act. They include Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Vermont—and the District of Columbia. Together with California, they represent more than one-third of the nation’s auto market. This market share is highly relevant, because reinstating state authority to set stricter standards is one way to push automakers to agree to more stringent national standards.
Reinstating California’s climate action authority—and that of the other states that choose to adopt California’s standards—is a climate win. States must be able to protect their residents from the carbon pollution contributing to the climate crisis and threatening their health.
But it’s just the beginning. Next up: Establishing ambitious national standards for climate pollution from both cars and trucks on an aggressive timeline to protect our children, our communities, and our health from the impacts of climate change. We want the cars, trucks, and buses on our roads to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our children, instead of harming them.
In announcing this move, EPA Administrator Michael Regan stated: “I am a firm believer in California’s long-standing statutory authority to lead. The 2019 decision to revoke the state’s waiver to enforce its greenhouse gas pollution standards for cars and trucks was legally dubious and an attack on the public’s health and wellbeing.” It was heartening to hear Regan cite public health benefits as a foundational value, marking a stark reversal from the previous administration, which prioritized industry profit over public health and repeatedly flouted EPA’s mission to protect public health.
EPA will hold a virtual public hearing on its proposal on June 2—the first climate-related hearing at Regan’s EPA—and will accept written comments into the public docket until July 6. This is an important opportunity to demand cleaner cars for our families’ health.