New York, N.Y. — A coalition of twenty-two attorneys general and six cities led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed comments today in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to make greenhouse gas emissions standards for light-duty vehicles for 2023 and later model years more stringent. The original clean car standards required a 5% improvement in emissions each year, but this threshold was lowered to 1.5% by the Trump administration’s 2020 revision to the rule. The current proposed rule would require a 10% stringency increase in 2023, followed by a 5% increase from 2024 to 2026. EPA points to the transportation sector’s significant contribution to GHG emissions as a reason for the increased stringency and references the positive impacts resulting from California’s stricter state-level standards. In today’s comments, the AG coalition supported EPA’s proposed revision of the weakened standards and urged the agency to adopt the most stringent of the three sets of standards included in the proposal.
“State leadership in addressing vehicle emissions is undeniable,” said Bethany Davis Noll, Executive Director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. “It is time for the federal government to get back on track with these standards and follow California’s lead.”
“Climate change is real, it’s here, and its impacts are all around us,” said Attorney General Bonta in a statement. “From record-breaking wildfires and a devastating drought to toxic and suffocating air that too many Californians breathe every day, we’re running out of time. We must act on climate now. Industries, individuals, and governments alike must step up and work together to preserve our planet and protect the health of our communities. It’s going to take every tool in our toolkit to get this done, and GHG standards for vehicles are some of the best tools we have.”
Background — The Clean Car Standards were established under the Obama administration to limit greenhouse gas emissions by raising fuel efficiency standards for new passenger vehicles and light trucks by 5% each year. In 2020, the Trump administration weakened the national standards with the so-called “Safe Vehicles” rule, which only mandated an annual fuel efficiency improvement of 1.5%, and revoked California’s authority to set stricter standards. The rule was expected to result in an additional 1.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and cost drivers an extra $244 billion in fuel. In May 2020, a coalition of twenty-four attorneys general led by California Attorney General Becerra filed a petition for review challenging the rule. Previously, California led a coalition of states and cities in filing extensive comments on that Trump-era proposal.
The attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin, and the cities of Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose joined AG Bonta in filing today’s comments.
About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center:
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan academic center at NYU School of Law. The Center is dedicated to working towards a healthy and safe environment, guided by inclusive and equitable principles. The Center studies and supports the work of state attorneys general (AGs) in defending, enforcing, and promoting strong laws and policies in the areas of climate, environmental justice, environmental protection, and clean energy.