Sources: Biden to restore Calif. Clean Air Act waiver for cars

By Arianna Skibell | 02/15/2022 05:36 PM EST

Michael Regan

EPA Administrator Michael Regan speaks to the Conference of Mayors last month. The agency is finalizing a rule reinstating California's stringent clean car standards. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

EPA will reinstate California’s authority to set stricter tailpipe emissions standards as early as tomorrow, according to multiple sources.

The move would allow California to lead other states in adopting greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards that are stronger than those of the federal government. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia follow California standards.

For decades, the waiver has given the Golden State the legal authority to surpass national standards. But under former President Trump, EPA revoked California’s Clean Air Act waiver, citing a need for national uniformity. The move was part of a broader rollback of Obama-era vehicle emissions standards.


Last year, President Biden instructed EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to consider restoring the waiver. In December, NHTSA took the first step (Greenwire, Dec. 22, 2021).

Last April, EPA also issued a notice signaling its intent to return California’s authority, saying “significant issues” surrounded the waiver withdrawal.