An electric car at a California charging station.
An electric car charging An electric car at a California charging station. © Michael Simons


Statement of The Nature Conservancy on the Rollback of the State of California's Authority to Regulate Auto Emissions Under the Clean Air Act

Arlington, VA

The Nature Conservancy opposes the Trump Administration’s revocation of the state’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon pollution from automobiles.

“California’s waiver program has been a crucial part of one of the most successful air quality improvement efforts in the last fifty years,” said Lynn Scarlett, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations of The Nature Conservancy. “It not only significantly reduced the smog problem in places like Los Angeles, but has resulted in air quality improvement across the country as states from Maine to Maryland, Washington to New Mexico, have followed California’s lead.

Emissions standards, coupled with fuel economy standards, not only make our air cleaner, they have promoted some of the most popular product innovations in the auto industry. Consumers want cars that run cleaner and go farther on less fuel. And they want to protect their communities from the health impacts and risks that carbon pollution brings.”

“California has been fighting dirty air since before there was a Clean Air Act. We made smog as famous as the Hollywood sign,” says Mike Sweeney, Executive Director for The Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter. “Our leaders made sure that when the Clean Air Act was passed it didn’t make Californians settle for lower air quality standards than the ones we used to beat back smog. That’s what the waiver is all about. Even today, seven of the country's 10 most air-polluted cities in the US are in California according to the American Lung Association. We need to do more, not less, to protect our air and reduce the risks of a climate catastrophe. The least the federal government can do is stay out of our way while we rise to this challenge.”

“The Nature Conservancy is committed to durable federal policy that improves air quality and meets the urgent challenge climate change poses to our communities, our economy and our natural systems,” says Scarlett. “In the United States, transportation sources like cars and trucks are the largest contributor of carbon pollution emissions that cause climate change. We need to be embracing bigger commitments to reduce carbon emissions and drive more innovation. We urge this Administration to let states continue to drive innovation and not take away one of the most effective tools we have to reduce tailpipe pollution.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.