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California Moves to Ensure Vehicles Meet Existing State Emissions Standards

In response to the Trump Administration’s effort to weaken vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) posted a proposal to ensure that cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2021-2025 continue to meet tough California standards.

“Dirty, gas guzzling vehicles are a direct assault on public health, and foreclose our ability to rein in air pollution and greenhouse gases,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “California will take all actions to ensure that the smart standards we developed in partnership with the auto industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles stay in place.”

Under CARB’s existing regulation, adopted in 2012, cars meeting federal standards for model years 2017-2025 are “deemed to comply” with California standards. This provision had the benefit of creating a single national program allowing automakers to meet one set of fleet-wide standards throughout the nation, including in California and the 12 other states that have adopted California standards. Last week, however, the Trump Administration proposed to change the federal regulation and freeze vehicle greenhouse gas standards at 2020 levels.

CARB is requesting public comments on its proposed amendments. Specifically, CARB requests comments on potential flexibilities that might allow for continued compliance with the federal standards, or reward national actions to promote cleaner vehicles. The comment period begins on August 10 and continues through September 24, 2018. The Board will consider the proposal for adoption at its regular meeting on September 27-28, 2018.

“CARB remains committed to a national program that fulfills our mission to protect public health, welfare and the environment. That program is built on a robust technical foundation and sound economic analysis,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “We continue to be open to discuss well documented technical analysis that provides real public health, environmental, and economic benefits including options that consider additional flexibilities.”

The Trump Administration’s proposal would freeze the current national requirements for model year 2021-2025 vehicles at 2020 emission levels. If California were required to follow the federal rollback, global warming emissions could increase by almost 14 million metric tons (MMT) per year by 2025. Air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOX) in the state could increase beyond 2020 levels by more than 3,600 tons annually.

Californians are already living with severe impacts of climate change in the form of increasingly frequent and severe wildfires, extended drought, and rising sea levels, among other impacts. Additionally, California continues to have the worst air pollution in the country with more than 10 million people living in areas the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has designated severe non-attainment zones for ozone.

To submit comments and learn more information, visit the CARB website.