California State Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Standards; Advanced Clean Car Program; Reconsideration of a Previous Withdrawal of a Waiver of Preemption; Opportunity for Public Hearing and Public Comment
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reconsidering a prior action that withdrew a waiver of preemption for California's zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards within California's Advanced Clean Car (ACC) program for purposes of rescinding that action. The ACC program waiver, as it pertains to the GHG emission standards and ZEV mandates, will become effective should EPA rescind the prior action. On September 27, 2019, EPA and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an action titled ``The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule Part One: One National Program'' (SAFE 1) that included, among other matters, EPA's determination that the Agency had authority to reconsider the ACC program waiver and that elements of the ACC program waiver should be withdrawn due to NHTSA's action under the Energy Policy & Conservation Act (EPCA) and Clean Air Act (CAA) preemption provisions. In addition, SAFE 1 included EPA's interpretation of whether States can adopt California's GHG emission standards under section 177 of the CAA. EPA believes that there are significant issues regarding whether SAFE 1 was a valid and appropriate exercise of agency authority, including the amount of time that had passed since EPA's 2013 waiver decision, the novel approach and legal interpretations used in SAFE 1, and whether EPA took proper account of the environmental conditions in California and the environmental consequences from the waiver withdrawal in SAFE 1. Further, EPA will be addressing issues raised in several petitions for reconsideration of SAFE 1, including one filed by California (jointly with a number of States and Cities) and one jointly filed by nongovernmental organizations. Finally, on January 20, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on ``Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.'' The President directed the Federal Agencies to ``immediately review'' SAFE 1, and to consider action ``suspending, revising, or rescinding'' that action by April 2021. Therefore, based upon the issues associated with SAFE 1, the petitions for reconsideration, and the Executive Order, this Federal Register notice initiates reconsideration of SAFE 1 and announces a virtual public hearing as well as an opportunity to submit new written comment.