At its meeting on Friday, the California Air Resources Board officially confirmed that it will stick with planned increases in emissions and fuel economy standards for cars sold in the state.
The move was expected after CARB said in August that it would not follow the Trump Administration’s move to freeze federal emissions and fuel economy standards from 2020 through 2026. CARB says it will continue to require cars sold in the state to get higher gas mileage and produce fewer emissions, as well as continue to require electric cars to be sold in the state.
It paves the way for 12 other states that follow California’s standards also to continue requiring electric-car sales and higher fuel economy regardless of whether the federal proposal goes through.
In a statement Friday, CARB chairwoman Mary Nichols said, “While we continue to work to keep a single national program, California will act to ensure strong standards are in place in California through 2025 and beyond to help us meet our climate targets and protect public health. Today’s vote by the Board ensures that California and 12 other states will not fall victim to the Trump administration’s rollback of vehicle standards should its proposal be finalized.”
CARB board takes action to ensure that Californians will be able to buy & drive cars that meet current #cleancarstandards — even if the Trump administration weakens & rolls back federal standards ➡️ https://t.co/ILfvAeVHvz #deemedtocomply #cleanercars pic.twitter.com/tFHV6tKSVQ
— CARB (@AirResources) September 28, 2018
CARB noted in its announcement that the EPA proposal to roll back federal standards would increase emissions of carbon dioxide in the state by 12 million metric tons per year by 2030.
California and 16 other states, plus Washington, D.C., sued the EPA over its proposal to freeze the emissions and fuel economy standards in May before it was officially released.
Under 1970 revisions to the Clean Air Act, California has been allowed to set its own emissions standards for cars because it had its own standards prior to the passage of the act. Other states can choose to follow federal or California standards but cannot set their own.
California has to apply to the EPA for a waiver each time it raises standards, and the EPA has to grant it as long as the state meets certain requirements.
Under the joint proposal by the EPA and NHTSA, which officially sets fuel economy standards, the Trump administration laid unprecedented plans to revoke California’s waiver and challenge its legal right to set its own standards.
An environmental impact statement assessing the joint EPA/NHTSA proposal acknowledges that freezing fuel economy standards will contribute to global warming but claims that it is not technologically or economically feasible to address it.
Automakers lobbied the Trump administration to loosen the standards, which they had agreed to under the Obama administration along with California, the EPA, and NHTSA, but have said they want a single national standard. This move takes one step closer to introducing a second national standard.
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