Carper Statement on Trump Administration’s Revocation of California’s Clean Cars Authority

Carper: Automakers can no longer stay “stuck in neutral”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement after the Trump Administration moved to revoke the State of California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to set and enforce its own fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards.

“For two years now, automakers have told me repeatedly that they wanted to see a deal between the administration and the state of California, a 50-state solution that would provide near-term flexibility as the industry moves toward stronger standards. Based on those numerous meetings and conversations, I am confident that no automaker wanted this outcome—in fact, it’s the exact outcome they sought to avoid.

“This move flies in the face of California’s unambiguous and longstanding legal authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own clean car standards. After the dust settles, this revocation’s first stop will likely be in federal court – where years of litigation will begin, creating regulatory confusion and miring the automotive industry in economic disarray.  

“Fortunately, automakers now have the opportunity to circumvent this reckless and willfully ignorant move. Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW – which account for about 30 percent of U.S. auto sales – have already demonstrated tremendous courage and worked with California to forge a responsible alternative path. These automakers know that we do not have to choose between environmental stewardship and economic progress; that no automaker has to choose between doing what is good for our planet, and what will do well for their business.

“To those auto companies that remain silent today, I’ll say this: it’s no longer an option to stay stuck in neutral. Clearly, this administration has no interest in helping America’s automotive industry compete in the global market that’s moving toward the cleaner, alternative fuel vehicles of the future.

“It’s time for automakers to speak up and take a stand against this administration’s reckless path – their industry, our economy and the health of our planet is depending on it.

“Every week, I visit businesses large and small across Delaware to ask how they’re doing. I ask what the local, state and federal government can do to create a more nurturing environment for job creation and preservation. I always hear the same thing. Businesses need certainty and predictability to be successful, and for America’s automotive industry, what the Trump Administration has done guarantees just the opposite.”

In October 2018, Senators Carper, Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a letter to EPA then-Acting Administrator Wheeler and Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) Elaine Chao warning the administration that its proposal to remove California’s authority to set its own clean car standards wrongly asserts that California’s authority is preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), as amended by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA).

Additionally, the senators provided the agencies with documents proving that Congress indeed rejected legislative efforts to preempt or limit California and EPA authority back in 2007, including:

  • Several draft legislative proposals shared by representatives of Cerberus in late-November, 2007 that sought to constrain EPA’s authority to set greenhouse gas tailpipe standards for cars and light trucks, and remove California’s authority to do the same.
  • A November 30, 2007 press release that describes the Congressional agreement on the fuel economy provisions of EISA.
  • Two December, 2007 Statements of Administration Policy issued by the Bush White House that threatened a Presidential veto of EISA, in part because it did not eliminate EPA’s Clean Air Act authority to set greenhouse gas tailpipe standards for cars and light trucks in order to abrogate the Supreme Court’s decision earlier that year in Massachusetts v. EPA.
  • Draft legislative language proposed in mid-December, 2007 that sought to prevent EPA from setting more stringent greenhouse gas tailpipe standards for cars and light trucks than the fuel economy standards that would be set by the Department of Transportation.
  • A press release issued on the date EISA was signed into law acknowledging that the new law did not include any provisions that impacted EPA’s or California’s authority to set greenhouse gas tailpipe standards for cars and light trucks.