While EPA expands fight against clean air, Minnesota and New Mexico adopt CA rules

After last week’s moves to force more pollution and lower clean air standards on California, the Environmental “Protection” Agency threatened this week to pull California’s federal highway funding if California doesn’t bow to their pressure and allow more pollution in their state.

We’ve now learned that two states – Minnesota and New Mexico – will join California’s efforts to reduce tailpipe emissions in response to the EPA’s actions. Both states plan to adopt both California’s Zero Emission Vehicle mandate and its tailpipe emissions standards.

For more background on how this story has developed, look at Electrek‘s articles from last week.  We show how the EPA will have a hard time ending California’s rules and how the EPA’s own analysis shows that their rollback will kill people and cost money.

Since then, California responded to the EPA’s likely illegal actions by filing a lawsuit with 23 states opposing the federal government’s attempt to revoke California’s Clean Air waiver. Minnesota and New Mexico are two of those states. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) also voted to stay the course and accept an agreement made between the state and the automakers to voluntarily exceed federal emissions standards, roughly meeting the pre-rollback federal standards.

But that wasn’t enough for the EPA, and they won’t drop their losing battle.  On Tuesday they gave their reasoning for threatening California’s funding – a bizarre suggestion that the state hasn’t done enough to comply with the same federal clean air rules the EPA is currently trying to eliminate.

After arguing last week that California’s waiver should be revoked because the state does not have “particular or unique” clean air needs, the EPA paradoxically argued earlier this week that California actually has exceptionally poor air quality and, as a result, federal funds should be withheld from the state.  So much for “no particular or unique environmental problems.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom responded to the threat, stating: “The White House has no interest in helping California comply with the Clean Air Act to improve the health and well-being of Californians. This letter is a threat of pure retaliation … We won’t relive entire summers when spending time outside amounted to a public health risk. We won’t be intimidated by this brazen political stunt.”

Electrek’s Take

That California could use these funds to help improve their air quality is immaterial to the EPA. Their motivation for these moves seems simply to be an attempt at revenge over being embarrassed that California has the support of consumers, businesses, and anyone interested in environmental progress.

Now, we can add more states to the list of California’s supporters.  With 23 states suing the EPA over this move and more states joining California’s clean air efforts, the EPA’s position is looking lonelier and lonelier.

The waiver in question isn’t just of interest to California, because several other states follow California’s clean air rules.  These states are collectively called the “CARB” or “section 177” states.  Some states follow more of California’s regulations than others, but in general this group represents about a third of the US auto market.

Colorado recently joined CA’s ZEV mandate, in addition to the two states, Minnesota and New Mexico, that have just declared they will join the effort.  All three states cited the EPA’s anti-environment actions as reasons for them adopting California’s standards instead of the federal government’s.

This represents a further failure on the part of the EPA, who claimed their rollback was an attempt to “set a unified, national standard” for auto emissions.  Prior to the rollback, a national standard for auto emissions existed, agreed-upon by both California and the federal government under President Obama’s EPA.  Mr. Trump’s EPA torpedoed that unified standard, causing a split auto market which is now even more fractured as two more states have joined California’s efforts for clean air.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for electrek.co since 2016.

You can contact him at jamie@electrek.co