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Consumer Reports: EPA proposal to reinstate emissions waiver is important step on the way to empowering states to protect their residents again

Consumers poised to benefit from easier access to vehicles that save money and cut pollution

Relevant materials

> EV Fact Sheet

> GHG Emissions Standards Fact Sheet


WASHINGTON, DC — The Biden-Harris administration today took an important next step in undoing the previous administration’s rollbacks of critical consumer protections by proposing to reinstate California’s waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions caused by light-duty vehicles and to implement Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) programs that make it easier for consumers to find electric vehicle options in their community. This kind of waiver has been issued more than 50 times since its establishment in 1967, and has been a consistent acknowledgement of states’ authority to protect consumers under the Clean Air Act. 


Once finalized, states will have clarity that they can continue to enforce a single alternative to current, weak federal emissions standards established just over a year ago. Over the past two years, Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington have either adopted or begun the process of adopting these emissions and ZEV standards.


“State leadership enabled by past waivers has helped to drive the auto industry to the precipice of a revolution that will drive down consumer costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Alfred Artis, Sustainability Policy Analyst at Consumer Reports. “Once finalized this waiver will once again empower states to adopt policies that ensure automakers continue innovating towards a cleaner, money-saving transportation future. California should then move forward on a new round of strong greenhouse gas and ZEV standards, with a new waiver request in 2022.”


Improving fuel economy is one of the ways automakers reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of their vehicles. 9 in 10 U.S. adults agree or strongly agree that automakers should continue to improve fuel economy for all vehicle types (i.e. large SUVs and pickup trucks), according to a 2020 nationally representative survey by Consumer Reports. Over 75,000 consumers also signed a petition last year calling on major automakers to drop their opposition to state authority.


“Unfortunately, automaker promises alone aren’t good enough,” says Chris Harto, Senior Sustainability Policy Analyst at Consumer Reports. “While many major automakers claim they are committed to a zero-emission future, most were also lobbying to take away the right of states to set emission targets. States are oftentimes best-positioned to hold automakers accountable to their promises of delivering new cost-saving technologies.”


After finalizing the waver, EPA’s next step will be to set new vehicle greenhouse gas standards, as announced by the administration earlier this year.


“EPA should restore the Obama-Biden greenhouse gas standards through 2025 and establish new standards to cut those emissions 60% by 2030,” said Harto. “Thes standards will save consumers $1.6 trillion while eliminating 10 gigatons of global warming pollution.” 


Media contact:  David Butler, david.butler@consumer.org




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