The Biden administration is looking at allowing California to once again set its own vehicle emissions standards, potentially ending a legal battle with the state that began under the Trump admin.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Adminsitration this week proposed this week to remove sections of the Trump-era law that prevented states from setting their own emissions standards separate from the federal standard. California previously set its own more strict emissions standards through a waiver granted under the Clean Air Act, which became a point of contention as the Trump admin sought to implement looser emissions standards to lower development costs for automakers and boost vehicle sales. This laid the groundwork for a legal battle between California and the federal government over the ability for the state to set its own standards.
NHTSA opened a 30-day comment period this week over its intention to withdrawal sections of the Trump-era laws. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to set forth another 30- or 60-day comment period on the re-introduction of the waiver allowing a state to set its own emissions laws. Acting NHTSA administration Steven Cliff said these actions would help “establish a clean slate,” with regard to vehicle emissions laws in the United States, enabling states to set forth emissions regulations they deem appropriate.
“States have been leading the way, especially over the last four years, when it comes to cleaning up pollution and addressing climate change,” Cliff said this week. “NHTSA’s proposed rule would remove unnecessary barriers to state leadership in regulating greenhouse gases and other air pollutants that spew from the tailpipes of cars.”
EPA chief Michael Regan said previously that states would be able to set their own emissions standards under his leadership.
“I think there’s a process that we should follow,” Regan said. “If those states follow those processes and want to be champions in this arena, then they can go forth and conquer, and the rest of the country can learn from these first-mover opportunities that they’re taking advantage of.”