Attorney General James Condemns Trump Administration Attempts To Undermine California's Legal Authority To Set Emission Standards 

Attorney General James Condemns Trump Administration Attempts to Undermine California’s Legal Authority to Set Emission Standards 

NEW YORK — New York Attorney General Letitia James today vowed to fight the Trump Administration’s unprecedented action to revoke California’s waiver to establish vehicle emissions standards for greenhouse gas emissions and standards to require manufacturers to sell zero emissions vehicles. These standards are vital to curbing emissions, and addressing air quality issues and the climate crisis. 

“The Trump Administration’s attempt to weaken the Clean Air Act will cause lasting damage to the economy, environment, and health of the American people,” said Attorney General James. “My office will continue to take legal action to allow states to set stronger emissions standards to help reduce carbon pollution, improve air quality, and lower driver transportation costs.”

Under the federal Clean Air Act, California may set its own vehicle emissions standards that are at least as protective as the federal government’s standards. California retains this authority in order to address the extraordinary and compelling air pollution issues affecting the state. Other states may also choose to adopt these standards.  

As part of the process, California is required to obtain a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Over the past 50 years, the EPA has granted 100 waivers for California standards. Thanks to those standards, the state has reduced emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons annually, encouraged the development of emission controls technologies, and contributed to stronger federal standards. 

In January 2012 California adopted its comprehensive Advanced Clean Car Program for model years 2017 through 2025. The program combines the control of smog-causing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions into a single coordinated package of standards. The rules save drivers money at the pump, reduce oil consumption, reduce air pollution, and curb greenhouse gases. 

In 2013, EPA granted California a waiver for the Advanced Clean Car Program. Thirteen other states and the District of Columbia follow at least a portion of the Advanced Clean Car Program. When accounting for emissions savings from other states that follow California’s standards, these emission reductions nearly triple.

Today, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced their plan to revoke California’s authority for its greenhouse gas and zero emission vehicle standards, using a tired and unsuccessful argument that the waiver is preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. This argument has been rejected by Congress, the courts, and by the EPA itself.  EPA’s revocation arguments under the Clean Air Act fare no better, departing, as they do, from the purpose, structure, and plain text of the Act. 

Attorney General James is part of a coalition opposing President Trump’s plan and any weakening of the Clean Car Standards. The coalition stands strong to defend our nation’s Clean Car Standards as well as California’s strict limits on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and its Zero Emission Vehicles program, both of which protect the health and safety of its residents.