Saving the Clean Car Standards and the Clean Power Plan

Xavier Becerra
Oct 26, 2018 · 3 min read

President Trump insists America must achieve energy independence. Shortly after assuming office, he said, “When it comes to the future of America’s energy needs, we will find it, we will dream it, and we will build it.”

As a nation, however, we have already found what our energy future can and should look like. The federal government previously adopted two programs, the Clean Car Standards and the Clean Power Plan, that pave the way to a secure and sustainable energy future.

The problem is the Trump administration now proposes to axe both of these programs, and Americans only have a few days left to weigh in.

Here’s how these visionary policies work: the Clean Car Standards move all new cars and trucks toward greater fuel-efficiency and reduced carbon dioxide emissions through 2025. This rule is expected to reduce asthma symptoms for 24 million Americans, prevent potentially thousands of heart attacks by 2030, plus save the average vehicle owner $1,620 over the lifetime of their car or truck. US drivers’ fuel savings would lead directly to reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Similarly, the Clean Power Plan is a boon for consumers and a win in our fight for energy independence. Once implemented, it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants — one of the nation’s largest sources of climate-damaging pollution. We’d reduce emissions of coal and gas-fired plants by 32 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels and stop 3,500 premature deaths per year.

As the Attorney General of California, I’m entrusted to protect the people and resources of our state. The economy, climate and health of our state and its 40 million residents are deeply invested in the future of these two policies.

Unfortunately, President Trump has proposed ending both. He wants to freeze the Clean Car Standards at 2020 levels, which would increase our consumption of foreign oil in the U.S. by hundreds of thousands of barrels per day. And he plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which would increase renewable, clean energy to nearly 20 percent of all power supplied in the nation by 2030, up from approximately 13 percent in 2014.

While there’s no guarantee that President Trump will change his mind, we need to do all we can to remind the Administration of the vital importance of these rules before it takes final action.

The next big deadline is nearly here: the public comment period for the Clean Car Standards ends today, October 26th, and it ends on Oct. 31st for the Clean Power Plan. Anyone in the country with an opinion can submit their thoughts here (Clean Car Standards) or here (Clean Power Plan).

In California, where we’re number one in clean energy and sell more zero-emission vehicles than any other state, we can’t afford to backslide. We’ve seen the effects of climate change, from record wildfires to massive mudslides.

States like Florida and Puerto Rico have faced deadly hurricanes. Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa have faced extreme tornadoes and flooding.

The effects of climate change are here now, all across our great nation.

And we can only expect this climate emergency to worsen if the Trump Administration rolls back these standards. By the Environmental Protection Agency’s own prediction in August, global surface temperatures will rise by 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century if we do not take action.

Experts warn of sea levels rising higher and higher, floods, drought and other extreme weather events becoming more intense and frequent, infectious diseases spreading to new regions, food shortages and famines, massive migrations and more.

The damage would hit not just coastal towns, but across America’s heartland. A roughly 7-degree Fahrenheit increase in temperatures would cut corn production in half, which is $4.2 billion out of Iowa farmers’ pockets each year.

In California, we’re prepared to lead the defense of the Clean Car Standards and we stand with New York as it leads the defense of the Clean Power Plan.

Together, these two policies will cut 2.5 billion tons of carbon pollution by 2030. That’s equivalent to eliminating emissions from powering every home in America for two years.

We shouldn’t have to go to federal court to make our case. The math — at a time where we’re facing a climate change crisis — should speak for itself.

Xavier Becerra

Written by

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra