This March, the Biden administration restored California’s legal authority to set stringent auto pollution rules. California can once again implement its own greenhouse gas emission standards to protect public health and slow the effects of climate change. Given that transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gases in the nation–accounting for almost 30 percent of total emissions–this reinstatement of power signifies an important milestone.
Environmental advocates have praised the EPA’s decision to restore the Clean Air Act Waiver to create a zero-emission world for California and the rest of the country.
California’s Clean Air Act Waiver reinstated
California Governor Gavin Newsom said this decision “comes at a pivotal moment underscoring the need to end our reliance on fossil fuels.” Since the 1960s, the Golden State has received multiple waivers allowing it to set stringent standards for tailpipe emissions. These regulations have significantly improved air quality in Los Angeles and other cities continually cloaked in smog. As the most populated state, California has exerted influence on the biggest automakers while setting a benchmark for the rest of the nation.
President Biden is taking measures to reverse the actions taken by the previous administration, which took away California’s power to tighten emission standards. Biden is pushing to transition from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric cars that are not dependent on fossil fuels.
Pioneering standards to reduce air pollution and slow climate change
Electric cars account for a mere 4 percent of new vehicle sales in the United States, but this may change in the coming years. Some of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers are now espousing a healthier, more sustainable future based on electric vehicles. Many have pledged billions of dollars toward achieving this goal. Ford and General Motors have announced the goal of eliminating all gasoline-fueled vehicles by 2035.
The Committee on Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone stated that the reinstatement of the Clean Air Act Waiver in California overturns one of Trump’s “most indefensible actions.” In 2019, Trump rolled back environmental legislation that was deemed burdensome for business.
The EPA has also withdrawn limitations of the Clean Air Act that would prohibit other states from following California’s fuel efficiency and Green House Gas emission standards. Along those lines, at least twelve other states have adopted California’s directive to sell only zero-emission vehicles after 2035.
California vehicle regulations have always been progressive, whether dealing with the smog problem, tailpipe emissions, or improvements in environmentally friendly technology.
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- Los Angeles Times, EPA restores California’s authority to set its own auto pollution rules https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-03-09/epa-restores-californias-authority-to-set-its-own-auto-pollution-rules
- CNBC, Biden restores California’s ability to impose stricter auto pollution limits https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/09/biden-restores-california-ability-to-set-its-own-auto-pollution-rules.html
- NYTimes, Biden Restores California’s Power to Set Stringent Tailpipe Rules https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/09/climate/biden-california-tailpipe-waiver.html