SACRAMENTO – California officials expressed their strong opposition Thursday to the proposed rule from the Trump Administration saying it would eviscerate the current greenhouse gas emission standards for model year 2021-2026 vehicles and put in place weakened emission and fuel efficiency standards at the expense of public health, the economy and the environment.
the Administration is moving to freeze the standards at the 2020 level through model year 2026, instead of adopting maximum feasible standards to increase vehicle fuel efficiency, as federal law requires, said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Attorney General Xavier Becerra and California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols in a joint statement.
Similarly, rather than addressing the pressing threat of climate change as the Clean Air Act mandates, the Administration is moving to freeze greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles for those same years.
If enacted, this proposal will cost consumers billions of dollars in additional gasoline to run less efficient cars and light-duty trucks. It will also degrade air quality and put millions of additional tons of climate-disrupting pollution into the atmosphere.
The Trump Administration is also proposing to withdraw the waiver granted to California more than five years ago for the State’s own greenhouse gas emissions standards and its successful zero-emission vehicle programs — an unprecedented and unlawful action that flies in the face of congressional intent and would aggravate the harms to consumers, public health, and the environment caused by the weakening of the federal standards.
The Administration proposal would also block the many other states that use California standards from moving forward.
“For Trump to now destroy a law first enacted at the request of Ronald Reagan five decades ago is a betrayal and an assault on the health of Americans everywhere,” Brown said. “Under his reckless scheme, motorists will pay more at the pump, get worse gas mileage and breathe dirtier air. California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s own analysis shows the national clean car standard benefits all consumers by reducing fuel costs and the environment by reducing greenhouse gas pollution.
In May, Brown announced that California is leading an 18-jurisdiction coalition – representing approximately 43 percent of the U.S. automobile market and 140 million people – to sue the U.S. EPA to preserve the nation’s single vehicle emission standard. Last year, Brown wrote a letter to the U.S. EPA Administrator to defend the existing emission standard.
California – which is playing a world-leading role in setting aggressive climate goals and building strong coalitions of partners committed to curbing carbon pollution in both the United States and around the globe – will convene the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this September, where representatives from subnational governments, businesses and civil society will showcase the surge of climate action around the world, and make the case that even more must be done.
“The Trump Administration has launched a brazen and unlawful attack on our nation’s Clean Car Standards,” Becerra said. “The California Department of Justice will use every legal tool at its disposal to fight back. Our nation’s Clean Car Standards save consumers thousands of dollars, protect our families’ health, and ensure that we continue tackling climate change, the most important global environmental issue of our time. We are ready to do what is necessary to hold this Administration accountable.”
“At first glance, this proposal completely misrepresents costs and savings. It also relies on bizarre assumptions about consumer behavior to make its case on safety,” Nichols said.
“CARB will examine all 978 pages of fine print to figure out how the Administration can possibly justify its absurd conclusion that weakening standards to allow dirtier, less efficient vehicles will actually save lives and money,” she said.
“Stay tuned for further comment,” Nichols said. “Meantime, California remains fully committed to a rigorous 50-state program with a full range of vehicle choices. That program is in effect right now and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”
In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, CARB and car manufacturers established a unified national program harmonizing greenhouse gas emission standards and fuel efficiency standards, and in 2012 the agencies extended the national program to model years 2017-2025 vehicles.
As part of the program, California and the federal agencies agreed to undertake a mid-term evaluation to determine if the greenhouse gas emission standards for model years 2022-2025 vehicles should be maintained or revised.
In January 2017, the EPA completed the mid-term evaluation by issuing a final determination, affirming that the existing standards were appropriate and would not be changed.
The EPA arrived at this conclusion based on an extensive record it developed in conjunction with CARB. CARB confirmed in March 2017 that the agreed-upon standards for model years 2022-2025 were appropriate and feasible.
On April 13, 2018, however, the Trump Administration took the first step toward dismantling the national program when it issued a revised final determination that alleged the federal greenhouse gas standards for model year 2022-2025 vehicles were no longer appropriate.
The Administration failed to provide any appropriate or relevant evidence for its arbitrary and capricious revision of its previous mid-term evaluation.
Leading a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia, Governor Brown, Attorney General Becerra, and CARB sued the EPA on May 1, 2018, over the EPA’s April 13 action.
At present, the car industry is on track to meet or exceed the clean car standards at issue.
The federal Clean Air Act preserves California’s authority to set its own stricter-than-federal vehicle emissions regulations to address the State’s extraordinary air quality challenges and because it had vehicle air quality regulations on its books predating the CAA and EPA.
Since then, CARB has adopted, implemented, and enforced a wide array of nation-leading air pollution controls, based on a strong foundation of science and reflecting a longstanding partnership with federal air quality regulators. Its pollution control strategies have proven to be a model for other states, the nation, and other countries.
The ability of other states to adopt California standards, as long as they are as or more stringent than federal standards, is written into the CAA Section 177.
Here are statements from other AG’s supporting California’s position:
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen
“The Trump Administration is determined to roll back protections, like these auto emissions standards, that are critical to the health, safety and well-being of Connecticut residents. As a downwind state, Connecticut struggles to maintain our air quality, and lessening standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks nationwide will only exacerbate the problem. My office will continue to work with our partners in other states to aggressively fight this administration’s assault on clean air.”
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine
“EPA’s irresponsible rollback of fuel economy standards will set back years of work to reduce carbon emissions and will make life worse for District residents. In the last 90 years, nuisance flooding along the Potomac and Anacostia riverfronts has increased 300 percent because of sea level rise, due in part to global warming. Weaker emissions standards will exacerbate the District’s already high rates of severe intermittent asthma, which disproportionately affect low-income and minority residents. The Trump Administration should be moving us forward on fuel and emission standards rather than setting us back.”
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh
“Reversing course in the country’s efforts to reduce air pollution from passenger vehicles endangers the health of our children and our environment. Weakening these common-sense standards undermines successful efforts made by states, including Maryland, to combat greenhouse gas emissions.”
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal
“I continue to oppose EPA’s unwise and dangerous decision to roll back a landmark agreement to combat climate change. As EPA has admitted, New Jersey’s climate is changing because of greenhouse gas pollution, and those changes force states like New Jersey to confront rising sea levels and more catastrophic storms like Superstorm Sandy. That is why EPA’s decision is bad not only for the environment, but also for public safety, and we remain committed to fighting it.”
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring
“Virginia is uniquely vulnerable to the threat of climate change and air pollution, particularly in Hampton Roads where streets are frequently closed by nuisance flooding and the world’s largest naval base is threatened by sea level rise. We also recognize the huge health, economic, and environmental benefits of clean air, especially for our kids. We’ve made too much progress as a country and a Commonwealth to let President Trump roll back the clock and undo all our progress just to boost the bottom line of oil and gas companies.”