Press Releases

Senator Feinstein Cosponsors Measure 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 – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has cosponsored legislation 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 by 2016. The legislation is offered by Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

“In 2002, California voters approved a landmark standard to cut tailpipe emissions from new cars and trucks by 30 percent in 2016.  And yet, the EPA has dragged its feet for years on whether to grant the State the waiver it needs to implement this law. But the time for delay is over,” Senator Feinstein said. “This legislation would force the EPA to act within one month of passage.  It’s time for California to be allowed to proceed with reducing tailpipe emissions from the millions of new cars and trucks on the State’s roads.”

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.