Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) today released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency reaffirmed California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to implement vehicle emissions standards that exceed federal clean car standards:
“We applaud the Biden administration’s restoration of California’s authority to set its own, stronger vehicle emissions standards. California has long been a leader in clean air and climate policy, working with auto manufacturers to set and achieve ambitious environmental goals that protect public health, safeguard clean air and save money for consumers.
“Today’s action by the EPA recognizes California’s environmental leadership and confirms California’s clear authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own emissions standards in order to protect public health and the environment.
“California was the first state to set 2035 as the target by which all vehicles sold must be zero-emission. The restoration of California’s waiver will help make that goal a reality by enabling California to set even more ambitious pollution standards in the future.”
The transportation sector is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas pollution nationwide and contributes roughly 50 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Clean Air Act, California has unique authority to set its own tailpipe emissions standards, which 15 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted.
Before the Trump administration attempted to revoke California’s waiver, the federal government had worked with California to establish increasing efficiency benchmarks.
In response to letters from Senator Feinstein – and in collaboration with Governor Newsom and the California Air Resources Board – Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen agreed to work with California to set stronger vehicle emission standards in 2019. Volvo subsequently joined the agreement in 2020.
Padilla and Feinstein have continuously advocated to strengthen emissions standards, including successfully pushing the Biden administration to set national clean car standards modeled on the “California Framework Agreement” and to revise the NOx emission standards for on-highway heavy-duty trucks, which the EPA proposed to do this week.