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CARB affirms that “deemed to comply” applies only to vehicles meeting current federal and California GHG and fuel economy regs

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) yesterday voted to clarify its requirement that automakers must comply with California vehicle standards if they sell vehicles in the state.

A provision adopted in 2012 establishes that cars meeting federal standards for model years 2017-2025 are “deemed to comply” with California’s standards.

This provision had the benefit of allowing a single national program for automakers to meet one set of fleet-wide standards throughout the nation, including in California and the 12 other states that have adopted California’s standards.

However, in August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the US Environmental Protection Agency proposed freezing the current federal fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for model year 2021-26 vehicles at 2020 levels, instead of requiring car makers to increase efficiency and reduce emissions year over year—as the existing federal and California standards require.

The Board’s action today clarifies the “deemed to comply” provision to cover only vehicles that meet the standards originally agreed to by California, the federal government, and automakers in 2012—and not the weaker standards in the federal proposal.

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