September 19, 2019

Director’s Comment:

We are grateful that Virginia’s Attorney General is affirming VA’s role in the fight for Clean Car Standards. Virginia’s automakers, vehicle operators, and fuel providers have shown progress in efficient vehicles and VCC stands with these states working for clean air and clean vehicles. -Alleyn Harned, Director, Virginia Clean Cities.

Reposting Attorney General’s comments and President’s Comments

Contact: Michael Kelly, OAG
(804)786-5874 desk
(804)356-5077 mobile

~ Trump Administration has announced an unprecedented effort to restrict states’ ability to reduce air pollution and encourage clean car technology ~

RICHMOND (September 18, 2019)—Attorney General Mark R. Herring today vowed to fight the Trump Administration’s unprecedented effort to block state-level action to reduce air pollution from cars and encourage the development of clean car technology and jobs.

The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under President Trump have announced a plan to revoke California’s authority to establish vehicle pollution standards that meet its needs. These standards, which have been adopted at least in part by thirteen other states and the District of Columbia, are vital to curbing pollution and addressing air quality issues and the climate crisis, especially in light of the Trump Administration’s efforts to weaken federal vehicle pollution standards. In May 2018, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues sued Trump’s EPA for attempting to gut the federal Clean Car standards.

“President Trump’s obsession with climate change denial is now trampling all over the ability of states to effectively address this crisis,” said Attorney General Herring. “Effective, broadly-shared pollution standards that are based in science will lead to cleaner vehicles, cleaner air, savings at the gas pumps, predictability for auto manufacturers, and healthier Americans. It’s good for everyone except oil companies, which is why President Trump and his allies are trying to throw up roadblocks and trample on states’ authority.”

Under the federal Clean Air Act, California may set its own vehicle emissions standards that are at least as protective as the federal government’s standards. California retains this authority in order to address the extraordinary and compelling air pollution issues affecting the state, and other states may also choose to adopt these standards.

California’s standards have proven remarkably effective, reducing air pollution by hundreds of thousands of tons annually, encouraging the development of pollution controls technologies, and contributing to stronger federal standards.

In attempting to justify the unprecedented revocation of California’s ability to set its own pollution standards, the Trump Administration is using a tired and unsuccessful argument that such authority is preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. This argument has been rejected by Congress, the courts, and by the EPA itself.

Attorney General Herring is part of a coalition opposing President Trump’s plan and any weakening of the Clean Car Standards The coalition stands strong to defend our nation’s Clean Car Standards as well as California’s strict limits on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and its Zero Emission Vehicles program, both of which protect the health and safety of its residents.

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Reposting EPA press relese

News Releases from Headquarters›Office of the Administrator (AO)
Trump Administration Announces One National Program Rule on Federal Preemption of State Fuel Economy Standards
Contact Information:
EPA Press Office (
WASHINGTON (September 19, 2019) — President Trump promised the American people that his Administration would address and correct the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards, and today, his Administration is taking steps to fulfill this promise.

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took an initial step towards finalizing the proposed Safer, Affordable, Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule by issuing a final action entitled the “One National Program Rule,” which will enable the federal government to provide nationwide uniform fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles and light duty trucks.

A top priority for President Trump, when finalized, the proposed SAFE Vehicles Rule standards would establish attainable fuel economy and GHG vehicle emissions standards that will help ensure that more Americans have access to safer, more affordable, and cleaner vehicles that meet their families’ needs. The SAFE rule’s standards are projected to save the nation billions of dollars and strengthen the U.S. domestic manufacturing base by adding millions of new car sales. Most importantly, because newer cars are safer than ever before, the new standards are projected to save thousands of lives and prevent tens of thousands of Americans from being hospitalized by car crashes.

“Today’s action meets President Trump’s commitment to establish uniform fuel economy standards for vehicles across the United States, ensuring that no State has the authority to opt out of the Nation’s rules, and no State has the right to impose its policies on the rest of the country,” said Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

“Today, we are delivering on a critical element of President Trump’s commitment to address and fix the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “One national standard provides much-needed regulatory certainty for the automotive industry and sets the stage for the Trump Administration’s final SAFE rule that will save lives and promote economic growth by reducing the price of new vehicles to help more Americans purchase newer, cleaner, and safer cars and trucks.”

Today’s action finalizes critical parts of the SAFE Vehicles Rule that was first proposed on Aug. 2, 2018. This action brings much-needed certainty to consumers and industry by making it clear that federal law preempts state and local tailpipe greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards as well as zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates. Specifically, in this action, NHTSA is affirming that its statutory authority to set nationally applicable fuel economy standards under the express preemption provisions of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act dictates that such state and local programs are preempted. For its part, EPA is withdrawing the Clean Air Act preemption waiver it granted to the State of California in January 2013 as it relates to California’s GHG and ZEV programs. California’s ability to enforce its Low Emission Vehicle program and other clean air standards to address harmful smog-forming vehicle emissions is not affected by today’s action.

This action will help ensure that there will be one, and only one, set of national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles. The agencies continue to work together to finalize the remaining portions of the SAFE Vehicles Rule, to address proposed revisions to the federal fuel economy and GHG vehicle emissions standards.

In today’s One National Program Rule, NHTSA and EPA have made the following determinations:

Pursuant to Congress’s mandate in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, only the federal government may set fuel economy standards, and state and local governments may not establish their own separate fuel economy standards. This includes state laws that substantially affect fuel economy standards (such as tailpipe GHG emissions standards and ZEV mandates).

In addition, EPA is withdrawing the 2013 Clean Air Act waiver that authorized California to pursue its own tailpipe greenhouse gas emission standard (fuel economy standard) and ZEV mandate. As a result, these two programs are also prohibited by the Clean Air Act.

Moving forward, California must continue to enforce its programs to address smog and other forms of traditional air pollution caused by motor vehicles. The state must redouble its efforts to address the worst air quality in the United States and finally achieve compliance with EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards, where for decades it has failed to address serious, severe, and extreme non-compliance status in several areas within the state.

Details can be found at NHTSA’s website and EPA’s website.

Comment from American Council for Energy Efficient Economy

Media Contact(s):
Casey Skeens, 202-507-4043, Communications Manager

US Government Takes Sledgehammer to Clean Car Rules

Washington, DC — In another major setback for US climate policy, President Trump tweeted today that his administration is revoking California’s waiver to set stricter vehicle emissions standards that more than a dozen other states have adopted. For half a century, through eight prior US administrations, California’s standards have led the nation’s push for cleaner cars and light trucks.

Therese Langer, director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) transportation program, said:

“Without California, our cars would be much dirtier today. The Trump administration’s decision defies common sense. It slams the brakes on efforts to ensure automakers produce vehicles that are more efficient each model year. It will cost consumers dearly, forcing them to refill their gas tanks more often and spew more heat-trapping pollution into the air.

“This is a direct attack on US clean air policy that dates back to the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970 when Richard Nixon was president and Ronald Reagan was governor of California. This policy has reduced smog and other harmful air pollution.

“The Trump administration should make a U-turn for the sake of clean air and public health.”

Two federal agencies — the EPA and the Department of Transportation — are expected to issue legal challenges to California’s ability to set greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks. The EPA is revoking the waiver that allowed California to set standards for model year 2017-2025 vehicles. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted California’s standards, the earliest version of which predated federal rules.

This is the first part of the administration’s dual-pronged attack on clean cars. Another rule is expected later this year to weaken US vehicle standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy — the miles-per-gallon average that each automaker must meet.

Rolling back fuel economy standards will do nothing to improve traffic safety, as the administration has claimed, and will instead cost American consumers $460 billion in combined fuel and vehicle costs ($3,300 per vehicle, on average) in the coming years, according to a recent report by Consumer Reports.

Despite administration claims, ACEEE analysis shows that fuel economy standards have not increased the cost of cars, SUVs, and light trucks. In fact, vehicle prices have remained essentially flat over the past 15 years, even as average fuel economy improved.

Four automakers — Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda — rankled the Trump administration this summer by reaching a deal with California that maintains annual reductions in average vehicle emissions. Numerous lawsuits are expected to challenge the revocation of California’s waiver, leaving it to the courts to make the final decision.

To read the press release online, visit:

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.