The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Scott Hochberg,

California Issues Weak Clean Cars Rule, Fails to Lead Aggressive Electric Push

Measure Ignores Tailpipe Pollution From Gas-Powered Cars, Trucks


California proposed a new clean car rule today that jeopardizes the state's pledge to be carbon neutral by 2045. The Advanced Clean Cars II Rule charts inadequate progress toward 100% zero-emission vehicle, or ZEV, sales and ignores tailpipe pollution from millions of gas-powered cars sold until that transition is complete.

"There's no excuse for California to take the slow road to an all-electric future when we're being gouged at the gas pump and facing epic drought and wildfires," said Scott Hochberg, a transportation attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. "The nation needs strong rules from California that force auto companies to make the electric vehicles we need. California has to lead on clean cars, or we'll all be left choking in the dust."

California has led the nation in setting strong auto-emissions standards, but it risks losing this mantle at a pivotal moment for climate protection. The state aims to reach 68% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030. But because polluting gas-powered cars stay on the road for 15 to 20 years, California needs to go faster, reaching 100% ZEV sales by 2030.

Delaying that target until 2035 threatens California's carbon-neutrality goals and falls short of protections needed to avoid the worst climate harms, conservationists say. The rule also ignores the tailpipe pollution caused by the millions of gas-powered cars that will be sold until 2035.

Many groups are urging the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, to set a much tougher target to curb emissions in California and ensure an equitable transition to electric vehicles.

The Center, along with the Greenlining Institute, Let's Green CA, EV Hybrid Noire and California Nurses for Environmental Health and Justice, will publish a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times on Friday to call on CARB to reach 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030, set strong pollution standards for gas-powered cars, and ensure access to electric vehicles for all Californians, especially in disadvantaged communities.

CARB's rule comes on the heels of a drier-than-average winter in California, which likely forecasts a cataclysmic fire season that may start as early as next month. Last week the latest United Nations climate report warned that incremental change isn't enough, and that emissions from existing and planned fossil fuel infrastructure -- including automobiles -- make blazing past climate guardrails increasingly likely.

"Time is running out before the world as we know it disappears in the rear-view mirror," said Hochberg. "To protect people and the planet, California has to free our streets from tailpipe pollution as fast as possible."

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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