Biden EPA moves to reverse Trump-era rollback of California’s strict tailpipe emissions standards

SAN FRANCISCO – The Biden administration is moving toward again allowing California to set tighter auto tailpipe standards, reversing the Trump administration’s long battle with the state over its efforts to reduce emissions to address the climate emergency.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today it is reviewing the Trump-era rule that blocked California’s legal authority to set emissions standards that are tougher than federal regulations. The EPA said the review, followed by the required period for gathering public input, is “for the purposes of rescinding the action taken by the prior administration.”

Soon after President Trump took office, auto industry lobbyists pushed for the repeal of the Obama-era federal fuel economy standards. In 2019, Toyota, GM and Fiat Chrysler joined Trump’s legal efforts to overturn California’s state standards, which largely follow the Obama-era rules. In today’s announcement, the EPA said it will also reconsider the Trump rule that rolled back the Obama standards.

Air pollution from automobiles is one of the major drivers of the climate crisis and can cause or worsen serious health problems, including damage to the heart, lungs and respiratory system, putting people at greater risk of falling ill from viruses, including Covid-19.

“Reversing the Trump administration’s reckless effort to block California and other states from setting strict automobile emissions standards is paramount in the fight to reduce air pollution and tackle the climate emergency,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “President Biden and EPA Administrator Michael Regan should be commended for taking these critical first steps necessary to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions from cars. But more must be done by states and the federal government to permanently tackle tailpipe pollution, increase fuel efficiency standards and save consumers money at the pump.”


The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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