Green groups on Wednesday hailed the Biden administration’s restoration of California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to establish its own greenhouse gas emission standards and implement a mandate to sell zero-emission vehicles.
“Today’s reinstatement of the waiver is an important step in the fight to preserve critical environmental regulations rolled back by the Trump administration.”
The Trump administration’s 2019 revocation of California’s authority to set its own standards sparked outrage – and a lawsuit – in the Golden State, which since the 1960s has received more than 100 waivers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowing it to adopt and enforce stricter emissions rules.
“Today, we proudly reaffirm California’s longstanding authority as a leader in fighting pollution from cars and trucks,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. , in a press release. “Our partnership with states to address the climate crisis has never been more important. With today’s action, we are restoring an approach that for years has helped advance clean technology and reduce air pollution for residents, not just in California, but for the entire United States.”
Abigail Dillen, president of the advocacy group Earthjustice, said “by restoring California’s authority to set tougher clean car standards, the Biden administration is taking a critical step to protect public health and combat against the climate crisis”.
The EPA also withdrew the SAFE-1 interpretation of the Clean Air Act, which prohibited other states from adopting California’s greenhouse gas emission standards. States can now choose to adopt and apply California’s national standards instead of the federal rules. According to Politics16 states plus the District of Columbia follow California standards.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, thanked the Biden administration “for righting the reckless wrongs of the Trump administration and acknowledging our decades-old authority to protect Californians and our planet.”
“Restoring our state’s exemption from the Clean Air Act is a major victory for the environment, our economy and the health of families across the country that comes at a pivotal time underscoring the need to end our reliance on fossil fuels,” he added. “California looks forward to partnering with the Biden administration to make a zero-emissions future a reality for all Americans.”
Michelle Robinson, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Clean Transportation Program, said in a statement that “Today is an important day for the future of transportation policy. The EPA has done well to restore the waiver, without which California has failed by enforcing higher greenhouse gas emission standards and effectively promoting zero-emission vehicles.”
“The previous administration’s agency action was based on a deeply flawed understanding of the law and thwarted states’ ability to take meaningful action to limit carbon emissions,” she added. “Today’s reinstatement of the waiver is an important step in the fight to preserve critical environmental regulations rolled back by the Trump administration.”
Sierra Club President Ramón Cruz said, “Restoring California’s Clean Air Act waiver to adopt higher-than-federal standards for new cars and light trucks is vital for California and has a positive ripple effect on states across the country, advancing climate progress and providing cleaner air to millions of Americans.”
“We are grateful to the Biden administration for reinstating this strong policy that will reduce emissions from transportation, the nation’s largest source of climate-disrupting pollution and a significant source of air pollution,” he added.