Trump Upends Law, Undermines Climate and Clean Air by Rescinding California’s Clean Air Authority

Statement by Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Sep 18, 2019

WASHINGTON (September 18, 2019)—The Trump administration has announced its intention to withdraw California’s current Clean Air Act waiver and assert that federal vehicle rules pre-empt state authority. This would remove the state’s long-standing ability to set strong vehicle emissions standards that other states can adopt, as 13 states and the District of Columbia have. This unprecedented move endangers clean air protections and violates the law, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of UCS.

“As the climate crisis escalates, more states are looking to strong vehicle standards to cut emissions. The law is clear—California can set its own emissions standards and other states can adopt those standards. This legal reality has created momentum around the country for clean car standards, with more states considering adopting California’s rules. Unfortunately, President Trump is determined to weaken vehicle standards, regardless of the law or the public interest.

“The Trump administration is trying to nullify key parts of the Clean Air Act, violating states’ longstanding authority to set and adopt more stringent emissions standards. This move doesn’t just defy the plain language of the law; it slams the brakes on technological advancement and throws a wrench into states’ ability to deal with air pollution and confront the growing risk of climate change. It’s yet another way the administration is defying science, the law, and democratic norms to enable increased pollution.

“If the Trump administration gets its way, it will force drivers to needlessly burn up billions of gallons of gasoline, increasing the danger of climate change and weakening the American auto industry. Taking away state authority on emissions is a purely political move, violating law, science, and the normal regulatory process, and it’s going to face a serious challenge.”