Press Releases

Senate Panel Approves Measure Sponsored by Senators Nelson, Boxer, and Feinstein to Prompt Long-Delayed EPA Decision on California’s Landmark Tailpipe Emissions Standard

- California requires EPA waiver in order to implement law to reduce tailpipe emissions by 30 percent below 2002 levels -

Washington, DC – The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today approved a measure that would force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make a decision – within one month of passage of the measure – on whether to grant California a Clean Air Act waiver to allow the implementation of the State’s landmark tailpipe emission standard. The emissions target, approved by California voters in 2002, requires a reduction in tailpipe emissions by 30 percent for all new sedans, trucks and SUVs by 2016. The legislation was sponsored by Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and others.

“The Environment and Public Works Committee today approved a bill that would require the EPA to finally announce a decision –within one month of passage – on whether to grant California the waiver it needs to implement its tailpipe emissions reduction standard. The EPA has put off this decision for too long – and further delay is unacceptable,” Senator Feinstein said. “Today’s Committee action brings us one step closer to allowing California to finally make this landmark legislation a reality. I’d like to also thank my colleagues Senator Boxer and Nelson for their partnership in helping to move this important bill forward.”

Specifically, the California standard, sponsored by then-Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, required automakers to produce sedans, trucks and SUVs that would, on average, emit 22 percent fewer greenhouse gases by 2012, and 30 percent fewer by 2016. It was the first State in the country to do so.  

Since then, 11 other States, including Florida, have signaled their intention to adopt California’s reduction targets, once the EPA grants California the Clean Air Act waiver.  In other words, California is the precedent-setting case.

Reflecting the longstanding leadership of California in addressing air pollution, Congress wrote the Clean Air Act to allow California to set standards more stringent than the national standard for air pollutants.  It required California to seek a waiver from EPA allowing a more stringent standard.  

California initially filed a waiver request in December 2005, but the EPA refused to take action citing a pending Supreme Court case on a related matter.  The nation’s highest court decided that case in April of this year and found that the EPA does, in fact, have the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions – clearing the way for the Administration to grant California’s request.