This week, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made the decision to reinstate an earlier Clean Air Act waiver that will allow California to set its own individual emissions requirement and Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandates. This comes as no surprise since the Biden Administration has made it clear about its direction on policies related to climate change.

California was stripped of the official ability to continue making its own clean air decisions due to a rule put in place by former President Trump. As Automotive News points out, California is the largest car market in the US, as well as the fifth-largest economy on a global scale.

This makes the news much more important than some may assume, and, as they have in the past, other states will continue to follow California's rules. Moreover, additional US states are likely to join, especially amid rising energy concerns and soaring gas prices. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said:

"Today, we proudly reaffirm California's longstanding authority to lead in addressing pollution from cars and trucks. Our partnership with states to confront the climate crisis has never been more important."

Regan went on to say that the action taken this week will "reinstate an approach" that worked to help California reduce air pollution for years by promoting clean technology.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) already backed out of the previous Trump rule in December 2021, though the EPA was still working on its future plans. Now, the agency has removed the former rules that prohibited other states from adopting and following California's plan over the less stringent federal regulations. The EPA shared:

"As a result, other states may choose to adopt and enforce California's ... standards in lieu of the federal standards, consistent with section 177 of the Clean Air Act."

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) was already in the process of drafting new rules that would help accelerate the transition to ZEVs. The board aims to launch the new requirements beginning with the 2026 model year. The end goal is to require 100 percent ZEV sales by 2035.

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