Advocates Across the Country Urge EPA to Issue Clean Air Act Waiver for Life-saving Clean Cars Pollution Reduction Program


Mollie Michel, 718-536-6336,

Communities from every state that has adopted the Advanced Clean Cars II Standards call on EPA to authorize stronger-than-federal cleaner cars program

Washington, DC — Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a virtual public hearing to collect comments on their proposal to authorize California’s waiver to allow implementation of the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACCII) program. The ACCII standards protect public health, consumers, and the environment by gradually phasing out the sale of new gas cars.

More than 120 speakers testified at yesterday’s hearing, which ran from 10a ET until after 7P in the evening. An overwhelming majority of testifiers spoke in support of EPA’s swift granting of this vital Clean Air Act waiver.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have already adopted ACCII and this waiver is necessary to ensure that they’re able to begin timely implementation of the program’s eight-year schedule. Any delay in approving the waiver could force states to give up one or more model years of the program and weaken the public health and consumer savings benefits that communities would benefit from.

The Clean Air Act allows the state of California to regulate motor vehicle emissions, an authority which is typically reserved for the EPA. Section 177 of the Clean Air Act allows other states to adopt California’s motor vehicle emissions standards, provided that each state’s regulations are effectively identical to the California standards, and the EPA grants a waiver for enforcement. ACCII is one of seven different vehicle emissions regulations eligible for adoption under Section 177. Eighteen states have adopted at least one of these regulations.

The ACCII standard requires manufacturers to deliver a gradually increasing percentage of new zero-emission vehicles to states each year. The program starts with model year 2027 vehicles, and fully phases out the sale of new gas-powered vehicles (other than plug-in hybrids) by model year 2035. Sales of used cars are not affected by the program.

Transportation is the highest-emitting sector of the US economy, and light-duty vehicles (including cars and light trucks) are responsible for the majority of transportation emissions.

In response to EPA’s proposal to issue the Clean Air Act waiver for the Advanced Clean Cars II standards, clean car advocates across the country released the following statements:

STATE VOICES (in alphabetical order by state)

“Last November, Delaware took a massive step towards providing clean options and clean air to Delawareans across the state by adopting the ACCII standards,” said Dustyn Thompson, Chapter Director for the Sierra Club Delaware Chapter. “Today, we urge the EPA to swiftly move forward to authorize the waiver for Delaware and the other 12 states in the program who are taking vital and necessary steps to cut pollution from passenger vehicles to cut air pollution and make our climate goals a reality."

“Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities suffer more instances of asthma and other respiratory diseases, heart disease, premature death and other health impacts.  States have long had the ability to follow tougher standards, like the Advanced Clean Car II Regulations, which are stronger  than the federal governments. Any delay in approving the California waiver will have immediate and direct consequences for Black, Brown and Indigenous communities in Colorado and the 12 other states that have adopted the Advanced Clean II Regulations, said Juan Roberto Madrid, Clean Transportation and Energy Policy Advocate for GreenLatinos Colorado. “The EPA must grant this waiver without delay so that states can improve air quality for those disproportionately impacted communities and all those burdened by degraded air quality.”

“The Advanced Clean Car II program is essential to improving the health of Connecticut residents and achieving compliance with national air quality standards,” said Charles Rothenberger, Climate and Energy Attorney at Save the Sound. “In Connecticut, the transportation sector accounts for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and 66 percent of NOx emissions (a key component of ground-level ozone) and is a significant source of particulate matter pollution. Transitioning to electric vehicles is an important element of reducing and eliminating these tailpipe emissions, and ACC II will ensure affordable EV options are available to Connecticut consumers. We urge EPA to grant this waiver so that Connecticut will have the tools it needs to address its serious air quality issues.”

“Washington, DC adopted ACCII just a few weeks ago, and we’re thrilled that the EPA is moving forward with the Clean Air Act waiver for this program so our community can reap the clean air and climate benefits,” said Mike Litt, conservation chair and executive committee member at the Sierra Club DC Chapter. “Adopting strong clean vehicle standards is one of the most important steps DC has taken to improve public health and address the climate crisis. These standards will help get DC and our neighbors in Maryland and Virginia over the finish line by making electric vehicles more affordable and accessible to our communities.”

“Harmful emissions from fossil fuel-powered cars are driving the climate crisis and polluting the air we breathe,” said Emily Green, Senior Attorney at Conservation Law Foundation. “New Englanders are counting on the clean car standards to save lives and clean up our air, and we need the EPA to approve California's waiver promptly to ensure our states can start implementing them as soon as possible. Our health, air, and climate depend on us taking bold action today.”

“Transportation advocates across Illinois are eagerly awaiting to have the Advanced Clean Cars II waiver, so that we can follow suit in passing stronger emission standards,” said Dany Robles, Climate Policy Director at Illinois Environmental Council. “With the transportation sector now accounting for nearly 33% of total CO2 emissions in our state, and that number rising year after year, Illinois advocates have flagged passing Advance Clean Car 2 standards and Advance Clean Trucks standards as priority in our state legislature. We are excited to join other states who have made ambitious climate goals a priority, and ask EPA to grant this waiver to allow Illinoisans to have a healthy future.”

“Residents across our rural state are showing that if the right zero emission vehicles are available at the right price, they will buy them,” said Anya Fetcher, Federal Policy Advocate at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Allowing states to adopt the strongest possible clean car standards will enable us to expand consumer choice and protect public health by reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Any delay in approval of California’s waiver will have far-reaching health, economic, and climate repercussions, including in Massachusetts,” said Veena Dharmaraj, Director of Transportation at Sierra Club Massachusetts. “We adopted the Advanced Clean Cars II Standards, along with 12 other states, to protect people from toxic air pollution, help achieve our climate goals, and ensure that drivers have access to the full range of electric vehicles in the market. It’s time for the EPA to approve California’s waiver without delay.”

"New Jersey adopted the Advanced Clean Cars II standards at the end of 2023 and we are looking forward to EPA swiftly issuing the Clean Air Act waiver to ensure there are no delays in implementation of these life-saving rules,” said Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey. “Electric vehicles are reaching an inflection point, and as we are experiencing more - and more frequent - climate-related impacts, we have no time to waste to reduce pollution from cars and trucks. New Jersey was one of the first states to adopt Clean Cars standards 20 years ago, and we are thrilled to join a bevy of other state leaders to testify at today’s EPA’s public hearing to urge the agency to authorize this important waiver.”

"The Advanced Clean Cars II regulations are a critical tool that many states, including New Mexico and Colorado, are using to save money on transportation while reducing pollution," said Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. "EPA should promptly grant this waiver request so that states across the country can continue to drive progress and clean up our air and climate emissions."

“New York State has one of the most ambitious climate laws in the world, but achieving the  necessary economy-wide emission limits hinges on EPA’s swift approval of the Advanced Clean Cars II regulation,” said Alok Disa, Senior Research and Policy Analyst in Earthjustice’s Northeast Regional Office. “Approving California’s waiver will accelerate the Empire State’s ongoing transition to a zero-emissions transportation system by increasing the availability of EVs for all New Yorkers. The EPA must not stand in the way as leading states take action to improve air quality and combat the climate crisis.”

"These clean cars rules cannot move fast enough to transition America from gas powered engines,” said Mary Peveto, Executive Director at Oregon’s Neighbors for Clean Air.  “Toxic pollution from gas burning vehicles is fueling the climate crisis, and can cause cancer, heart disease, and exacerbate chronic breathing problems like asthma. Despite more than fifty years of advancement in clean car technology, Black and brown communities continue to suffer disproportionately from breathing dangerously high levels of air pollution. EPA has found that communities adjacent to major highway corridors and other transportation superhubs have a greater share of the population who are Black, Brown and low income. And local health data supports that these same people have higher rates of disease and premature death connected to exposure to fine-particles and toxic emissions associated with gas burning engines. Every day we wait to eliminate this pollution is another generation of children born to suffer the consequences."

“Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants in RI, and the Advanced Clean Cars II regulations enable the drastic EV adoption needed to tackle them," said Amanda Barker, Policy Advocate at Rhode Island's Green Energy Consumers Alliance. “The ACCII standards will benefit our economy by turning off the spigot to petroleum and ensuring that consumers and dealerships in our state have access to the full range of EV models. We look forward to EPA's swift movement on this waiver so Rhode Islanders can ensure they receive the climate, local economy, and public health benefits that will come with lower tailpipe emissions."

“Tailpipe pollution is the biggest source of climate-altering emissions in Virginia,” said Cheri Conca, Transportation and Smart Growth Program Manager, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter. “Cardiovascular and respiratory disease is rampant in our country and public health will certainly benefit from Advanced Clean Car Standards II, especially for people who live in overburdened communities which are often located along busy roadways that have high levels of tailpipe pollution. As we face increasing climate events such as wildfires, drought, and floods, it is imperative that the EPA grant the waiver to allow California to implement the Advanced Clean Cars II program, without delay.”

“Advanced Clean Cars II is a critical component of Washington’s transition to a clean, healthy, and thriving future,” said Leah Missik, Senior Washington Policy Manager at Climate Solutions. “After our state adopted this rule, EV sales have rapidly increased—cutting pollution from our state’s largest source of climate emissions, reducing toxic air pollution, and relieving drivers from the anxiety of volatile gas prices. Washington’s Transportation Electrification Strategy, which includes predictive models of transportation climate emissions, found the Advanced Clean Cars II rule to play an essential role in reducing pollution. By granting this waiver, the EPA will allow states to continue their crucial leadership.”


“The electric vehicle revolution is upon us, and the benefits are far-reaching — even for those who never plan to get behind the wheel of an EV,” said Kathy Harris, Senior Clean Vehicles and Fuels Advocate, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “It’s great to see EPA  moving forward with the Clean Air Act waiver for the Advanced Clean Cars II standards that have already been adopted by 13 states across the country. The swift granting of the waiver will ensure these clean cars states are able to protect their communities from dangerous tailpipe pollution.”

“The Advanced Clean Cars II standards are a critical tool for states to meet their climate goals and federal air quality requirements,” said Katherine Garcia, Director of Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All Campaign. “Twelve states plus the District of Columbia have moved swiftly to join California in adopting these life-saving standards and many more are in the process. ACC II helps states protect public health, save families money at the pump, and curb climate emissions. It is essential that EPA grant this waiver expeditiously."

“Innovative state policies are helping to cut pollution and putting cleaner cars on the market,” said Dave Cooke, Senior Vehicles Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists. “EPA’s action today supports that effort, as the 13 states that have already adopted those policies and those considering adopting them in the future seek the certainty they need to implement Advanced Clean Cars II.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit