Fresno Bee Op-Ed: Trump Rolls Back Clean Car Standards as Air Quality Worsens

by Alice Kaswan

October 25, 2018

This op-ed originally ran in the Fresno Bee.

Cities in the San Joaquin Valley continue to land among the American Lung Association's top 10 most polluted communities in the country. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the comment period closed on the Trump administration's plans to ratchet back federal emissions standards and eliminate California's authority to run its crucial car emissions programs. Although the administration has its eyes on greenhouse gas controls, what's at stake is California's ability to transition to low- and zero-emission vehicles, a transition essential to reducing the pollutants that threaten public health in California and elsewhere in the nation.

The federal government has the primary authority to set automobile pollution standards under the Clean Air Act. But Congress — recognizing California's serious air pollution challenges — stipulated that California is entitled to a "waiver" that lets the state set stricter standards, and which gives other states the option to follow California's standards. The Trump administration's proposal threatens to withdraw the 2013 waiver that authorized the current Clean Cars program.

The Clean Cars program is critical to addressing ozone levels — or smog as it is more commonly labeled. Ozone is a significant public health hazard, contributing to asthma, cardiovascular problems, and premature death. Although California's air quality has improved since the Clean Air Act was enacted, air quality in many parts of the state remains poor. According to the American Lung Association's State of the Air 2018 report, the 14 cities with the highest ozone levels in the country are in California. Millions are impacted, including the 10 million in the Los Angeles region, which tops the ALA's smoggiest cities list, as well as those living in the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento and San Diego.

Developing clean cars is essential to addressing this pollution. According to the ALA, in California, 84 percent of the nitrogen oxide emissions that contribute to ozone come from transportation.

Read the full op-ed in the Fresno Bee.

Be the first to comment on this entry.
We ask for your email address so that we may follow up with you, ask you to clarify your comment in some way, or perhaps alert you to someone else's response. Only the name you supply and your comment will be displayed on the site to the public. Our blog is a forum for the exchange of ideas, and we hope to foster intelligent, interesting and respectful discussion. We do not apply an ideological screen, however, we reserve the right to remove blog posts we deem inappropriate for any reason, but particularly for language that we deem to be in the nature of a personal attack or otherwise offensive. If we remove a comment you've posted, and you want to know why, ask us (info@progressivereform.org) and we will tell you. If you see a post you regard as offensive, please let us know.

Also from Alice Kaswan

Alice Kaswan is a Professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, and a member of the board of directors of the Center for Progressive Reform.

The Center for Progressive Reform

455 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150-513
Washington, DC 20001
info@progressivereform.org
202.747.0698

© Center for Progressive Reform, 2015