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Inslee and AG Ferguson statement on Trump administration attacking states ability to regulate vehicle emissions

September 18, 2019

Story 

Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson released the following statement after the Trump administration announced an effort to block states from setting more stringent vehicle emission standards and Zero Emission Vehicles standards.

“With this unlawful move, the Trump administration has once again demonstrated its callous disregard for the state’s right to protect Washingtonians from the catastrophic effects of climate change,” Ferguson said. “This rule would hurt our pocketbooks, our health, our environment and our communities. We will not allow the Trump administration’s dangerous policies to harm Washingtonians.

“Washington will file a lawsuit challenging this unlawful action. If the Trump administration has its way, Washingtonians will be left with fewer options for cleaner, more efficient cars that get more gas mileage or use no gas at all. That means driving would cost more and pollute more."

“If the administration refuses to accept the scientific reality of climate change, they need to get out of the way and let states like Washington lead on this issue,” Inslee said. “Washingtonians deserve better than Trump’s dangerous anti-environmental policy.

“We will work with legislative champions to finally pass the Zero Emission Vehicles standard next session, to demonstrate our state’s commitment to cleaner vehicles and to fight the Trump administration’s attempts to limit consumer access to clean vehicles.”

The Clean Air Act sets federal standards for vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions. The act allows California to set stricter emission standards for vehicles sold within state lines, provided the state applies for and is granted a waiver by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The act also allows other states to adopt California’s standards. Washington, 11 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted the stricter greenhouse gas emission standards.

This process has been in place for more than five decades — California obtained its first waiver in 1968. The EPA may deny the waiver only if it finds that the stricter standards are arbitrary and capricious, are unnecessary to meet clean air standards or violate provisions of the Clean Air Act.

Blocking these states’ ability to set stricter greenhouse gas vehicle emission standards would prohibit them from following any standards other than those set by the federal government.

Legislative leaders said they intend to pursue legislation that aligns Washington state with California’s Zero Emission Vehicle standards. Washington has adopted the California vehicle efficiency standards but has not adopted the Zero Emission Vehicle standard, a separate standard that requires the deployment of additional clean vehicles. 

“The Zero Emission Vehicle policy is a key tool for driving innovation in the transportation sector, reducing fuel costs for consumers, and ensuring that Washington residents can access the full range of electric vehicles in the market,” said Senator Reuven Carlyle, chair of the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee. “We are committed to responsibly transitioning our economy away from fossil fuels, and passing this policy in 2020 is part of fulfilling that commitment.”

"The Trump administration's latest assault on Washington's clean air and climate is a slap in the face to federalism and Washington's right to protect our state from harmful air pollution,” said Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, chair of the House Environment Committee. “It cannot go unanswered and reinforces the need for Washington to adopt California's Zero Emission Vehicle standards in 2020."

“Protecting our natural environment is a matter of public health as much as it is a calling to be good stewards for the planet we share,” said Sen. Joe Nguyen, member of the Senate Energy, Environment & Technology Committee. “For the federal government to intervene on behalf of oil industry profiteers is reprehensible and demonstrates why state leadership is essential. That’s why we will work tirelessly in the 2020 legislative session to pass our Zero Emission Vehicles standard and keep Washington evergreen.”

Media Contact 

Tara Lee
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office
360.902.4136

Brionna Aho
Attorney General's Communications Office
360.753.2727