Trump Announces That EPA Will Revoke California’s Clean Air Act Waiver
President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that “The Trump Administration is revoking California’s Federal [Clean Air Act] Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER.” President Trump made the announcement while visiting California for fundraisers. Trump further tweeted that “Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business.”
California’s Clean Air Act Waiver
The Federal Clean Air Act under Section 209 allows California to seek a waiver of the federal preemption that prohibits states and local jurisdictions from enacting emission standards and other emission related requirements for new motor vehicles and engines. California has issued more stringent vehicle emission regulations than the federal government for decades pursuant to a CAA Section 209 waiver from EPA. Because the state is by far the largest market in the nation for vehicles, manufacturers have treated California requirements as the de facto national standard. Trump wants to change that and move to one national standard.
In response to President Trump’s tweets, California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement that “The President could learn from California. Instead, reports today suggest that this Administration will act on a political vendetta by announcing they intend to end aspects of our clean car waiver. It’s a move that could have devastating consequences for our kids’ health and the air we breathe, if California were to roll over. But we will not – we will fight this latest attempt and defend our clean car standards.” NGOs likely will also join the fray. The Sierra Club immediately announced that it “will challenge this indefensible attack in court and hold this administration accountable.” Litigation is thus a certainty and the end game may very well be in the U.S. Supreme Court.
For EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s recent remarks on vehicle emission standards and the agency’s intent to “mov[e] forward with one national standard very soon” see the EPA press release below: