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Press Releases

Attorney General William Tong

09/19/2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL TONG, GOVERNOR LAMONT, COMMISSIONER DYKES CONDEMN TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S ATTEMPT TO ROB CALIFORNIA’S LEGAL AUTHORITY TO SET EMISSION STANDARDS

Attorney General William Tong, Governor Ned Lamont and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes today condemned the Trump Administration’s unprecedented action to revoke California’s waiver to establish vehicle emissions standards for greenhouse gas emissions and standards to require manufacturers to sell zero emissions vehicles. These standards are vital to curbing emissions, and addressing air quality issues and the climate crisis.

"The more stringent California emissions standards are incorporated into Connecticut law. This is a blatant assault on California's, and by extension Connecticut's, right to control vehicle emissions that contribute to climate change and the air we breathe. The decision today is another step in this administration's goal to dismantle environmental protections. Automakers themselves oppose this reckless and needless overreach because they know low and zero emissions vehicles are critical to our future. The Trump Administration has zero authority or basis to pull the waiver and we are working closely with California and states across the nation and expect to take this fight to court," said Attorney General Tong.

“The Administration’s decision to revoke California’s power to limit vehicle emissions is bad for Connecticut consumers and even worse for public health. Being downwind, Connecticut already combats the effects of lower quality air from less regulated neighboring states —resulting in some of the worst asthma rates in the nation. This decision will only exacerbate the problem and lead to higher air pollution and increased health risks for our families," said Governor Lamont.

“In Connecticut, motor vehicles account for over 65 percent of smog forming pollution and 40 percent of carbon pollution linked to climate change. If the Trump Administration’s action is allowed to stand, our climate and air quality will suffer. I applaud our Attorney General for joining in the fight to protect our state’s rights and the health and safety of our children and families," said Commissioner Dykes.

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. Other states may also choose to adopt these standards.

As part of the process, California is required to obtain a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Over the past 50 years, the EPA has granted 100 waivers to California. Thanks to California’s vehicle emissions program, California and other states, including Connecticut, that have adopted the standards have reduced emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons annually, encouraged the development of emission controls technologies, and paved the way for stronger federal standards.

In January 2012, California adopted its comprehensive Advanced Clean Cars Program for cars and light duty trucks in model years 2017 through 2025. The program combines the control of smog-causing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions into a single coordinated package. The program improves air quality and curbs greenhouse gases while saving drivers money at the pump and reducing oil consumption. On its own, following California's program, Connecticut would reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the state by approximately 1.4 million metric tons a year by 2025 and 2.5 million metric tons a year by 2030.

Today, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced their plan to revoke California’s authority for its greenhouse gas and zero emission vehicle standards, using a tired and unsuccessful argument that the waiver is preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. This argument has been rejected by Congress, the courts, and by the EPA itself. EPA’s revocation arguments under the Clean Air Act fare no better, departing, as they do, from the purpose, structure, and plain text of the Act.

Attorney General Tong 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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