Mar 9, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Biden restores California's ability to set stricter auto pollution rules

California cars on freeway

Traffic moves along Interstate 80 in Berkeley, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday restored California's legal authority to set tailpipe emissions standards that are stricter than the federal rules.

Why it matters: The move restores California's status as a climate regulator after former President Trump stripped the state of that power when he was in office. The EPA has long signaled its intent to reverse the rollbacks.

The big picture: The reversal of the Trump-era policies has been part of President Biden's pledge to tackle the climate crisis.

  • “Today we proudly reaffirm California’s longstanding authority to lead in addressing pollution from cars and trucks,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a news release.
  • "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," he added.

The administration earlier this week unveiled additional measures it is taking to advance cleaner transit, including new limits on smog- and soot-forming nitrogen oxide emissions from heavy-duty vehicles

What they're saying: “I thank the Biden Administration for righting the reckless wrongs of the Trump Administration and recognizing our decades-old authority to protect Californians and our planet,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said in a news release.

  • “The restoration of our state’s Clean Air Act waiver is a major victory for the environment, our economy, and the health of families across the country that comes at a pivotal moment underscoring the need to end our reliance on fossil fuels," he added.
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