Trump Administration Unravels Clean Car Standards and Goes After States’ Clean Air

Under interim Chief Andrew Wheeler, U.S. EPA proposes new policy to roll back Clean Car Standards and undo decades-old agreement with states on tailpipe pollution


Phil LaRue, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 4317


Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed to gut national clean car standards as well as states’ authority to protect their residents from tailpipe pollution under the Clean Air Act. The new rule is the latest in a long list of gifts from the Trump administration to the oil industry given at the cost of the public health of Americans. The following statement is from Paul Cort, attorney at Earthjustice leading the California Right to Zero campaign:

“The Trump administration is not only rolling back federal protections, but also trying to trash a clean cars agreement with the states that protects roughly a third of Americans. By 2030, the pollution equivalent of this rollback will be like firing up 30 coal power plants. It’s a boon for big oil that ordinary Americans will pay for with their health and their wallets.

“Andrew Wheeler just took the reins at the EPA but is already signing policies that will sicken children. But this new attempt to squash states’ authority to protect their air will face a wave of resistance — places like California, Colorado, and Massachusetts will not stand by as the Trump administration passes policies that will sicken their residents.

“We remember the thick smog that used to choke our cities and we refuse to return to those times. Everyone who breathes should be worried about the tailpipe pollution Trump’s administration wants to unleash.”

Car Pollution by the Numbers:

  • Twelve states and Washington, D.C., opt in to California’s more protective greenhouse gas emissions car standards: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
  • Rolling back our national and state clean car standards will result in an additional 120 million metric tons of climate disrupting pollution pumping out of cars in 2030. That’s the equivalent of 30 coal-fired power plants. In 2040, the annual pollution will be the equivalent of 43 coal-fired power plants.
  • The oil industry will reap the rewards of this rollback. As a result, Americans will use more than 350 million additional barrels of gasoline in 2040 — that’s more oil than we currently import from Saudi Arabia. The rollback will cost Americans an extra $17 billion at the pump in 2025, and an extra $55 billion in 2040.
  • This rollback will shrink economic growth. The 2017-2025 clean car standards are slated to create more than 250,000 jobs nationwide and increase gross domestic product by $16 billion. This rollback will cut those job numbers and economic growth in half.

Resources for reporters:

The 405 freeway on a smoggy California day.
The 405 freeway on a smoggy California day. Heavy-duty trucks are the largest source of smog-forming NOx in California. (Andi Pantz / Getty Images)

Additional Resources

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