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EPA Begins Battle with States Over Auto-Emissions Standards

Under the Clean Air Act, states have authority to adopt stronger vehicle-pollution standards than those set by the federal government. (Adobe Stock)
Under the Clean Air Act, states have authority to adopt stronger vehicle-pollution standards than those set by the federal government. (Adobe Stock)
September 27, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Trump administration is challenging states' authority to set their own car emissions standards.

Last week, Environmental Protection Agency officials notified the state of California it had revoked its waiver to set stricter limits for vehicle emissions and fuel-economy standards. Experts say the actions also will affect fourteen other states – including North Carolina – pushing similar caps on air pollution.

Paul Billings, national senior vice president for public policy for the American Lung Association says states' rights and public health are at stake.

"This is really an outrageous attack on the Clean Air Act,” says Billings. “For more than 50 years, California has had the authority to set more protective standards, and it is really a move in the exact wrong direction."

Twenty four governors, including Gov. Roy Cooper, have recently affirmed their commitment to clean car standards.

According to the American Lung Association, 70% of California residents live in areas with unhealthy levels of particle air pollution and smog. Billings says the state has made cleaning the air a priority.

"So what California and the other states are doing is setting stricter greenhouse-gas emissions standards which means that you get farther on a tank of gas,” says Billings. “You get better fuel economy and create less pollution out of your tailpipe."

Billings points out that as the rest of the world moves forward with lowering vehicle emissions and setting fuel-economy standards, the U.S. will be left behind unless states take the lead.

"We're seeing gas prices go up,” says Billings. “And this is an attempt to increase the cost for families to get from place to place and really to stifle technology and to push the United States behind other countries around the world as innovation in transportation moves forward."

A handful of major automakers including Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW have joined forces with California to implement stronger voluntary vehicle pollution standards higher than those proposed by the Trump administration.

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Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC