California Leads Coalition in Support of State-Level Greenhouse Gas Standards

On Tuesday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California’s attorney general, Rob Bonta, announced that they will lead a coalition of attorney generals from 22 different states, as well as a number of major cities, in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to restore California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act for its greenhouse gas and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) programs. 

The group supports the EPA’s proposal to walk back its previous ruling that Section 177 of the Clean Air Act does not authorize other states to adopt California’s greenhouse gas standards for passenger cars and light trucks. California’s standards, which already result in emissions reductions of hundreds of thousands of tons annually, are key components of multiple states’ plans to combat climate change and improve public health for all.

Attorney General Bonta, who is the head of this coalition, stated that putting cleaner cars on the road “has tangible benefits – right here, right now – for some of our most vulnerable communities.”  As a state with some of the worst air quality in the country, Bonta emphasized the importance of quick action to prevent further damage to a place that has suffered numerous other climate change related disasters such as drought and wildfires.

California has also been a model for many other states and has opened the door for other states to clean the air and “protect public health and foster breakthrough advancements for a new generation of vehicles.” California Governor Gavin Newsome stated that  “The previous administration’s attack on California’s decades-long right to set its own standards is unprecedented, unscientific and cannot stand. California looks forward to working with the Biden Administration to get more zero-emission vehicles on the road with this critical tool to combat the climate crisis.”

The press release claims that the prior administration’s actions contradicted all available evidence and undermined California’s  legal authority under the Clean Air Act to set state vehicle emission standards to address its pressing air pollution and climate challenges. When the EPA withdrew California’s waiver to set its own greenhouse gas and ZEV standards, they immediately fought back against them in court and recognized the harmfulness for not only themselves but other states, the release said.

California’s clean car standards have been adopted by thirteen states, and could potentially be adopted by a number of others, the release explained. These standards are key pieces of various state’s plans to reduce emissions and attain federally mandated National Ambient Air Quality Standards. According to CARB analysis, California’s Advanced Clean Car Program is expected to result in a 75% reduction in smog-forming pollution and a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from its inception in 2012 to cars sold in 2025. The coalition believes that this widespread initiative would be severely hindered if these rules were maintained by the EPA, and would therefore have adverse effects on the progress made by these states.

Attorney General Bonta is also joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia, as well as the cities of Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose.