Nevada Defies Trump On Californian Car Pollution Rules

Silver State goes all in on Clean Cars Initiative
June 23, 2020 Updated: June 23, 2020

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, announced Monday that the state is planning to adopt the tough vehicle emission standards of its neighbor, California. Sisolak said that Nevada’s ‘Clean Cars Nevada Initiative’ is designed to offer Nevadans more choice in terms of less-polluting cars and trucks.

In a statement, Sisolak said that Nevada must accelerate efforts to combat climate change while offering “sustainable transportation options” for Nevadans. “Now is the time to set a new trajectory that will lead to healthier communities across the Silver State and establish Nevada as a leader in the clean transportation economy,” he said.

According to the statement from Nevada’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the new regulations “will not require anyone to give up their current vehicle or choose one that does not work for their lifestyle or business needs.”

In September, the Trump administration issued a final action referred to as the “One National Program Rule,” which enabled the federal government to define a uniform set of fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and light trucks across the United States. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “This action makes clear that federal law preempts state and local tailpipe greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards as well as zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates.”

Joined by 22 other states and the District of Columbia, California subsequently sued the Trump administration in an attempt to ensure California could continue to set its own tailpipe emissions standards.

In a twitter post at the time, President Trump said that “There will be very little difference in emissions between the California Standard and the new U.S. Standard, but the cars will be far safer and much less expensive. Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business.”

Led by California, however, a group of states that includes Washington, Minnesota, and New Mexico have continued to seek to adopt California’s more stringent emissions rules. Taken together, the group of states accounts for around 40 percent of U.S. vehicle sales.

Epoch Times Photo
An electric car is plugged into a public charging station in El Monte, Calif. on Sept. 22, 2014. (Eric Zhang/Epoch Times)

Bradley Crowell, Director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said that more efficient cars would provide cleaner air and healthier living conditions for the people of Nevada.

Dr. Kristen Averyt, Nevada’s State Climate Policy Coordinator, said that she believes reducing air pollution and reducing carbon dioxide emissions requires aggressive action. “Putting more Nevadans behind the wheel of low and no emissions vehicles is one of the many solutions we will be identifying as part of the State of Nevada Climate Initiative,” she said.

Pam Kiely, Senior Director of Regulatory Strategy for the Environmental Defense Fund, said that “Nevada’s transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state and a major contributor to harmful air pollution—stepping up action in this sector is essential.”

Divided Opinions

The Trump administration proposes maintaining automobile emission standards at 2021 levels until 2025. Under administration standards set under the Obama administration, new vehicles would have to achieve 30 mpg in real-world driving conditions by 2021, and 36 mpg in 2025. Current standards demand a fuel efficiency of 26 mpg.

According to the current administration, freezing fuel economy levels will reduce average new car prices by up to $2,700 by 2025. Making these newer cars more affordable will make road travel safer by ensuring that more road users are driving newer cars, while boosting manufacturing in the automotive sector, the administration says.

The EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, said that “One national standard provides much-needed regulatory certainty for the automotive industry and sets the stage for the Trump Administration’s final SAFE rule that will save lives and promote economic growth by reducing the price of new vehicles to help more Americans purchase newer, cleaner, and safer cars and trucks.”

Environmental groups, however, believe savings to consumers may be offset somewhat by higher fuel costs per mile if standards remain frozen at 2021 levels.

By virtue of a congressional waiver, the Clean Air Act of 1970 granted California the authority to set its own emission standards. With the most cars of any state, California continued to face unique smog and air quality issues. The administration of President George W. Bush denied California’s proposal to introduce stringent greenhouse gas standards for cars and trucks. However, the state asked the EPA to reconsider, and the proposal was accepted in 2009 during the presidency of Barack Obama.

The EPA is currently seeking to withdraw the 2013 Clean Air Act waiver that allowed California to pursue its own tailpipe greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards, and zero-emission vehicle mandate.