Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and CARB Lead Coalition in Defense of California’s Waiver for Clean Car Standards

OAKLAND – California Governor Gavin Newsom, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) today led a multistate coalition in filing a motion to intervene in defense of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to restore California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act for its greenhouse gas (GHG) and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standards. California’s standards, which 17 states have chosen to adopt, result in emissions reductions of hundreds of thousands of tons annually and are essential components of California’s and other states’ plans to fight climate change and protect public health. The coalition today seeks to join the EPA in defending the waiver from challenges filed by several states and industry groups.

“California will not back down from our work to protect our communities, the economy, and environment from the climate crisis,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “For decades, Congress and the EPA have given California the freedom to set emissions standards for our state based on California’s historical leadership in this field. We will stand with the federal government in defending against these radical efforts to upend the law and stand in the way of California’s clean transportation future.”

“Once again, California’s longstanding authority to set its own vehicle emissions standards is under attack,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “California’s standards are some of the best tools we have to reduce emissions, fight climate change, and protect public health. But unfortunately, there are some who continue to ignore these benefits, choosing inexplicably to defend outdated, pollution-generating vehicles even as technologies enabling emissions reductions and cost savings continue to advance. My office has defended California’s authority to set its own vehicle emissions standards from an onslaught of attacks in recent years, and we’re not going to back down now. We will do everything we can to safeguard Californians’ health and our climate future.”

“CARB has been tasked with coordinating California’s efforts to ensure the air is clean to breathe for all Californians,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph. “It is critically important to respect the inherent authority of the states to protect public health. That includes, if necessary, the choice to ensure the cleanest available motor vehicles are on our roads – especially for the people in the Los Angeles basin and San Joaquin Valley.”

Sixty years ago, California was a pioneer in adopting vehicle emission standards — long before any federal vehicle emission standards even existed. When Congress enacted the Clean Air Act, it took special care to ensure that California’s standards would not be displaced by federal regulation so long as EPA provided California a “waiver.” Since then, California has been granted more than 100 waivers, including in 2013 when the EPA granted California a waiver for its Advanced Clean Car program. Six years later, under the Trump Administration, the EPA withdrew California’s waiver to set its own greenhouse gas and ZEV standards, which a California-led coalition swiftly challenged in court. At the coalition’s urging, on March 9, 2022, the EPA announced a final action restoring California’s waiver.

California’s clean car standards have been adopted by 17 states, representing more than one-third of the U.S. automobile market. These standards, which have been implemented in some states for more than a decade, are essential components of state plans to reduce emissions and attain federally mandated National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter and ozone — two pollutants which cause significant adverse health impacts. In today’s motion, the coalition argues that California’s waiver is critical for California and other states to reduce emissions and mitigate the threats from air pollution, including climate change.

Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and CARB have pushed the Biden Administration to reduce emissions from the transportation sector and to reaffirm California’s authority to do the same. This summer, Attorney General Bonta testified and later submitted comments urging the EPA to restore California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act for its GHG and zero-emission vehicle standards. The Attorney General also led a coalition in urging NHTSA to repeal a Trump-era rule, known as the “Preemption Rule,” that purported to preempt California’s GHG and zero-emission vehicles standards. On December 21, 2021, NHTSA announced a repeal of that rule. More recently, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition in urging the EPA to adopt more stringent GHG standards for light-duty vehicles for model years 2021-2026, and intervened to defend these standards after they were finalized.

In filing the motion, Attorney General Bonta, Governor Newsom, and CARB are joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the cities of Los Angeles and New York.

A copy of the motion can be found here.