Energy & Environment

Nearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to ‘promptly’ allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards

Traffic is seen due to the I-66 widening project near Fairfax, Va., on June 2
Greg Nash

A group of 139 Democratic lawmakers is urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “promptly” reinstate California’s ability to set its own vehicle emissions standards — which is expected to increase electric vehicle adoption. 

In separate letters to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on Tuesday, 26 senators and 113 House members urged the swift reversal of the Trump administration’s move to revoke California’s emissions standards waiver, a major climate change rollback. 

“The mounting threats to health and welfare posed by climate change makes the authority of the states to lead more important than ever. It is vital that the waiver be reinstated to allow pioneering states to continue the process of innovation in clean vehicles,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We urge you to promptly reinstate the waiver,” they added. 

The letters were spearheaded by Sens. Tom Carper (Del.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Alex Padilla (Calif.) as well as Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Paul Tonko (N.Y.), Doris Matsui (Calif.) and Debbie Dingell (Mich.). 

California’s standards, which have been more stringent than federal standards, have also been adopted by more than a dozen other states. 

Regan has indicated that he supports California’s authority to set its own standards, saying in April that “the 2019 decision to revoke the state’s waiver to enforce its greenhouse gas pollution standards for cars and trucks was legally dubious and an attack on the public’s health and wellbeing.” 

At that time, the agency indicated that it would reconsider the Trump administration’s decision, seeking public comment on whether the waiver withdrawal was appropriate. 

An agency spokesperson did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the Democrats’ letters. 

The message comes as the EPA is expected to soon take steps to reverse a separate action on vehicle pollution. 

It has indicated that this month it will propose a new rule that reconsiders a Trump action that weakened national vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards. 

As of 2019, the transportation sector was the largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. 

Tags Alex Padilla Debbie Dingell Dianne Feinstein Doris Matsui Ed Markey Jan Schakowsky Michael Regan Paul Tonko Tom Carper vehicle emissions

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