The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday that it has reinstated authority to California that allows the state to set its own greenhouse gas (GHG) standards and zero emission vehicle sales mandate.
The move concludes the EPA’s revision of the 2019 Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule Part One: One National Program Rule (SAFE-1), finding that the actions taken under the previous administration “were decided in error and are now entirely rescinded.”
The announcement also includes the withdrawal of the SAFE-1 interpretation of the Clean Air Act that forbids other states from adopting California’s stricter emissions standards. As such, states can choose to adopt the California standards, rather than the federal standards.
“Today we proudly reaffirm California’s longstanding authority to lead in addressing pollution from cars and trucks,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Our partnership with states to confront the climate crisis has never been more important. With today’s action, we reinstate an approach that for years has helped advance clean technologies and cut air pollution for people not just in California, but for the U.S. as a whole.”
Late last year, the Biden administration reversed a Trump-era rule that prohibited California from setting its own emissions regulations outside of the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
California is the most populous state in the U.S., and accounts for 12 percent of the U.S. auto market. Back in 2019, California sued the Trump administration after the president revoked a waiver that allowed the state to set its own emissions guidelines and fuel economy standards. At the time, General Motors backed the Trump administration in that lawsuit. Additionally, The Trump administration attempted to rollback Obama-era fuel economy standards, freezing the standards at 30 mpg, as opposed to the previous fleet-wide average of 36 mpg by 2025.
However, with the election of President Biden, GM withdrew its support for the Trump administration with regard to the California lawsuit.