California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a coalition of 22 attorneys general, the cities of Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose, and the counties of Denver and San Francisco in urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt more stringent greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) standards for passenger cars and light trucks. The transportation sector accounts for nearly one-third of all GHG emissions in the United States. Reducing emissions from this sector is essential to stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis and to confront the inequitable distribution of climate change impacts, which have a disproportionate effect on low-income communities and communities of color. More stringent standards will also decrease fine particulate air pollution and ozone – two pollutants which cause significant adverse health impacts. According to EPA estimates, the proposed standards would – conservatively – result in between $86 billion and $140 billion of total net benefits.
“Climate change is real, it’s here, and its impacts are all around us,” said Attorney General Bonta. “From record-breaking wildfires and a devastating drought to toxic and suffocating air that too many Californians breathe every day, we’re running out of time. We must act on climate now. Industries, individuals, and governments alike must step up and work together to preserve our planet and protect the health of our communities. It’s going to take every tool in our toolkit to get this done, and GHG standards for vehicles are some of the best tools we have.”
Already, Americans are witnessing the catastrophic results of climate change, whether it be wildfires and heat waves; extreme weather events and dramatic precipitation changes; or other changes that affect agriculture and food production. In 2020 alone, there were 22 billion-dollar weather events, the most recorded since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began tracking the cost of these disasters. The average number of billion-dollar events since 1980 is seven; the average number since 2015 is more than double at 15.1. More stringent vehicle emission standards like those proposed by EPA can also directly improve health outcomes. Long-term exposure to particulate matter pollution is associated with up to 45,000 deaths annually. Recent studies show that air pollution may increase the vulnerability of individuals to contracting COVID-19 and may increase the severity and mortality risk from the virus.
Our GHG standards for passenger cars and light trucks are one of the best tools we have to reduce emissions, fight climate change, and protect public health. In today’s comment letter, the coalition argues that:
- More stringent standards advance the objective of Section 202(A) of the Clean Air Act, which requires the EPA to reduce threats to public health and welfare from harmful air pollution;
- Automakers are well-positioned to meet the more stringent standards, as early as model year 2023, and the lead time is more than ample; and
- The EPA’s analysis, and the full record, supports the finalization of more stringent standards.
Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, as well as the cities of Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose and the counties of Denver and San Francisco in filing the comment letter. The California Air Resources Board also submitted comments.
A copy of the comment letter can be found here.