What Trump wanted to stop, Biden will allow.
California is not your typical US state. It is, in fact, the world's fifth-largest economy and America's biggest car market. That economic power gives the Golden State many privileges, such as setting its own emissions standards. It has been doing so for years - until the previous Trump administration attempted to stop the practice. The federal government, at the time, wanted California to abide by federal emissions standards instead of a more stringent policy. The Biden administration now intends to reverse that.
Automotive News has confirmed with several inside sources that the EPA is expected to reissue a waiver falling under the Clean Air Act that'll allow California to continue setting its own tailpipe emissions standards. "EPA is working to finalize a decision on the California waiver… consistent with its obligations under the Clean Air Act and expects to issue a decision in the near future," an EPA spokesperson said.
California's pursuit of cleaner air and strict environmental policies fits perfectly in line with fully electric vehicles. Governor Gavin Newsom famously signed an executive order on the hood of a Ford Mustang Mach-E back in September 2020 declaring the state's intention to ban the sale of new ICE vehicles from 2035. A direct confrontation with the federal government was the immediate aftermath. But, several other states quickly followed California's lead by announcing ICE bans of their own.
Under the Biden administration, the US federal government has been pursuing an EV-friendly policy that includes major infrastructure investments such as a national charging network. At the same time, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is coming up with new requirements for improved emissions standards as soon as 2026.
CARB's goal is to hit at least 61% of new vehicle sales being EVs by 2030. The Biden administration's goal, to compare, is to hit 50% EV sales by the same deadline. Some California environmental activists don't think Newsom's plan is fast enough. Back in Washington, D.C., Republicans remain steadfast against the Biden administration's environmental plans.
"President Biden's strict, rush-to-green auto emissions regulations are yet another example of this administration putting radical environmentalists' agenda ahead of hardworking Americans," said Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican leader of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a statement. For now, California is being given back the ability to set its own environmental agenda. This could change if there's a new administration in the White House come 2024.