The Biden administration has reversed a rule issued under U.S. President Donald Trump that sought to quash California's vehicle emissions regulations.
The Department of Transportation told Reuters it is issuing final rules rescinding Trump’s action to bar California from setting vehicle rules that conflict with the federal government's authority to set Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements.
California’s program, in place since 1975, sets vehicle fuel efficiency requirements.
"States can now pursue solutions to address the climate crisis and environmental challenges in their communities," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
The ruling comes after approximately two dozen U.S. states sued to block a pair of Trump actions that would have removed California from vehicle emissions regulations, while major automakers had backed the effort. After Biden become president in January, General Motors Co. switched gears and refused to block the Trump Administration’s efforts.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also has moved to reverse the Trump Administration's 2019 decision to withdraw California's authority to set vehicle emissions rules and set zero-emission vehicle mandates.
The EPA in 2013 granted California a waiver for its tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions and zero-emission vehicle regulations. Fourteen states have since adopted California's vehicle-emission rules and 11 have adopted its zero-emission vehicle mandates.
The EPA has finalized new vehicle emissions requirements through 2026 that reverse Trump's rollback of emission cuts and will propel the U.S. shift to electric vehicles (EVs). These mandates will reduce U.S. gasoline consumption by 15% through 2050, according to the EPA.
The EPA rules will mean the average new car or truck will achieve 40 miles per gallon by 2026, versus 38 mpg under the August proposal and 32 mpg under the Trump rules.
Biden is pushing that 50% of all new vehicles sold in 2030 be EV or plug-in hybrid models. He has not endorsed California's plan to phase out new gasoline-powered light-duty vehicles by 2035.
The Transportation Department is expected to complete its rewrite of CAFE standards in 2022.