Clean Car Rules

This is a compilation of our legal analyses, podcasts, tracker posts, and op-eds about the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back fuel economy and emissions standards for cars and light trucks. We are following current developments related to California’s Clean Air Act waiver and the September, 2019 release of the final rules.

Legal Analysis: Rethinking the “One National Program” for Clean Cars: Where Does the Biden Administration Go from Here?

In this post, Lia Cattaneo (JD/MPP 2022) analyzes the legal impact of the Trump administration’s Part I SAFE Vehicles Rule, and what challenges the Biden administration faces in repealing and replacing the rule.

Podcast: Caitlin McCoy and Bethany Davis Noll Discuss the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule

Caitlin McCoy is joined by Bethany Davis Noll, Litigation Director at the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University Law School. They discuss the recently-finalized Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule, which weakens fuel economy and GHG standards for cars and light trucks. They share some insights into the rule and how it could be challenged.

Listen here and see a full transcript of this episode here.

Legal Analysis: Comprehensive Car Rules Overview

This post provides a comprehensive overview of the rollback of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy and vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards.

Under former President Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a joint rule making publishing the Safer, Affordable, Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule in two parts.

In this post, we detail the climate impact of these standards, explain the legal framework, break down the rules, compare the previous standards to the revised standards, preview the claims in upcoming litigation, describe the status of ongoing litigation, and provide a timeline of relevant actions.

For an analysis of how the Biden administration can address the legal challenges posed by Part I of the SAFE Vehicles Rule, see Rethinking the “One National Program” for Clean Cars: Where Does the Biden Administration Go from Here?

Podcast: Caitlin McCoy and Joe Goffman Talk about the California Waiver Rule

September 25, 2019 – Joe Goffman talks with Caitlin McCoy about EPA’s and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s final rule, issued on September 19th, that preempts California’s greenhouse gas standards and withdraws California’s Clean Air Act waiver.

Op-Ed: The Auto Rule Rollback That Nobody Wants, Except Trump

September 9, 2019 – Jody Freeman’s latest op-ed in the New York Times describes the Trump administration’s extraordinary attempts to undo climate standards that even the auto industry supports, bringing full force of the government to undermine California and spook industry.

Legal Analysis: Looking Forward from California’s Historic Agreement with Automakers

July 26, 2019 – This post looks ahead into the implications of California’s agreement with four automakers, Ford, BMW, Volkswagen, and Honda, on compromise standards for fuel efficiency and GHG emissions for model years 2022-2026 of cars and light trucks.

Legal Analysis: California’s First Legal Battle over the New Car Rules

June 28, 2019 – This post describes what is happening in the California v. EPA case, where California and a coalition of states are challenging the administration’s re-opening of the rulemaking process. We discuss how the court will walk through the issues and arguments presented, and how the case’s outcome could influence the inevitable legal battle over the new vehicle standards when they are finalized.

Podcast: Joe Goffman and Bill Becker Discuss the Clean Car Rollback

May 13, 2019 – Joe Goffman speaks with Bill Becker, former Executive Director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Bill and Mary Becker have just published a report on the Trump proposal to weaken vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards. They describe the effects this proposal will have on public health, state compliance with the Clean Air Act, and industry operations. In addition to increasing greenhouse gas emissions, other harmful emissions will rise, such as smog-forming pollutants, fine particles, and cancer-causing air toxics. The report is on our website here.

Podcast: Caitlin McCoy and Michelle Melton Talk about Vehicle Standards

May 9, 2019 – Caitlin McCoy speaks with Harvard Law student Michelle Melton about the proposed changes to the fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles. They discuss the lead up to and details of the proposed rules, and talk about ongoing and future litigation around these rules.

Legal Analysis: Beyond the Waiver - EPA’s Plan to End State GHG Vehicle Standards

November 5, 2018 – This blog is the third in a series on the legal landscape surrounding California’s Clean Air Act waiver to set vehicle greenhouse gas standards, focusing on the plan to eliminate the ability of other states to follow California’s GHG standards. The first post examined the potential for waiver preemption by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and the second post summarized the administration’s proposed rule and preemption plan. Both are also listed below.

Legal Analysis: CAFE Standards and the California Preemption Plan

August 24, 2018 – As an update to our examination of the law of preemption under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (the first post in this series is listed below), we walk through the preemption approach taken by the agencies in the proposed rules to explain how they are planning to address California’s waiver.

Op-Ed: Trump’s Biggest Climate Move Yet Is Bad for Everyone

August 2, 2018 – Jody Freeman’s op-ed in the New York Times describes what’s at stake with these rollbacks, how they might play out legally, and the role the auto industry can play in seeking flexibility and advancing progress toward cleaner air.

Legal Analysis: California, CAFE Standards, and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act

June 19, 2018 – Can California’s Clean Air Act waiver to implement its Advanced Clean Cars Program be preempted by fuel economy standards under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act? Here we summarize the state of the law on this issue. This is the first in a series of three legal analyses on these topics.

Regulatory Rollback Tracker CAFE/GHG Emissions Pages

We have two posts in which we track the efforts to roll back these standards and the penalties for noncompliance. Our Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards/Greenhouse Gas Standards page and our Corporate Average Fuel Economy Penalties page.