Shifting Gears: The Federal Government’s Reversal on California’s Clean Air Act Waiver

Ann E. Carlson Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law
Meredith Hankins Shapiro Fellow in Environmental Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law
Julia Stein Clinical Supervising Attorney, Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic at UCLA Law

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February 2019

The Trump Administration has its sights on a special waiver written into the Clean Air Act that permits California to set more stringent car emissions standards than the Environmental Protection Agency. Last August, it proposed to revoke California’s waiver, a move that would upend a decades-long arrangement that has benefitted the public and upon which the automotive industry has come to rely.

In a new ACS Issue Brief, Ann Carlson, Meredith Hankins, and Julia Stein, experts from UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, explain the history and legal framework governing California’s Clean Air Act waiver and outline why Sacramento should win this battle against Washington, D.C.

“The Clean Air Act’s waiver provision,” they argue, “is one of the most successful examples of federalism ever enacted: a state experiments with groundbreaking regulation, and the federal government adopts only those outcomes that are successful for implementation across the country.” The administration’s proposal to revoke the waiver has no legal basis, they contend, and is “designed to decimate one of the most effective means any state has for fighting traditional air pollution and climate change.”

Read full Issue Brief: Shifting Gears: The Federal Government's Reversal on California's Clean Air Act Waiver