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NHTSA Advances Biden-Harris Administration’s Climate & Jobs Goals

Thursday, April 22, 2021

FIRST STEP PROPOSES TO WITHDRAW RULE THAT SOUGHT TO PREEMPT STATES FROM SETTING THEIR OWN GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS STANDARDS OR ZERO-EMISSIONS VEHICLE MANDATES

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today moved aggressively to respond to President Biden’s January 20 executive order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis. NHTSA proposed to withdraw its portions of the so-called SAFE I Rule, which sought to preempt States, including California, from issuing their own greenhouse gas emissions standards and zero-emissions vehicle mandates. The proposed action would establish a clean slate, enabling the Department to further the Administration’s important fuel economy, equity, and climate change priorities — which include reversing unnecessary and potentially unlawful efforts to prevent state action. 
 
"The transportation sector is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases in our economy – which means it can and must be a big part of the climate solution," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "This proposed rule would be an important step towards protecting public health and combating climate change."  
 
Today’s regulatory action proposes withdrawing NHTSA’s regulations and legal analysis regarding preemption under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. NHTSA is seeking comment on whether the SAFE I Rule, which was finalized in 2019, fell beyond the Agency’s statutory authority by purporting to impose broad preemption requirements. If finalized, today’s action would wipe clean the regulatory slate. NHTSA’s actions in the SAFE I Rule would no longer be a potential barrier to states implementing tough greenhouse gas and zero-emissions vehicle regulations.  
 
"States have been leading the way, especially over the last four years, when it comes to cleaning up pollution and addressing climate change," said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Acting Administrator. "NHTSA’s proposed rule would remove unnecessary barriers to state leadership in regulating greenhouse gases and other air pollutants that spew from the tailpipes of cars."    
 
The public is invited to comment on the withdrawal notice.