What Are Clean Car Standards?

Clean Car Standards include two components that enable states to reduce harmful emissions from passenger vehicles: Low-Emission Vehicle standards that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harmful air pollutants together with a Zero-Emission Vehicles program.

The Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards require that automakers deliver new vehicles to Nevada that emit fewer greenhouse gases and harmful air pollutants. Automakers can implement existing cost-effective technologies in gas-powered cars, such as improvements in engines, transmissions, and use of lighter materials. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted the LEV standard, with other states also considering adopting.

The Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program ensures that each year, automakers deliver more vehicles that are partly or fully zero emissions (such as plug-in hybrid or full electric vehicles) for sale in Nevada. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia are considering or have already adopted clean car standards, and have seen increased electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle availability as a result.

Why Now?

Dirty cars are the top threat to air quality and the climate:

Transportation is Nevada’s biggest source of air pollution and greenhouse gases. Most of the emissions in this sector come from gas-powered cars. According to the 2019 Nevada Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Projections, transportation will remain the top source of climate emissions for the state in the next decade unless we act now. The 2019 State of the Air report from the American Lung Association gave Clark and Washoe Counties an F grade for ozone pollution, also called smog, and vehicle emissions are a primary cause. The ALA reports show that this air pollution has been getting worse.  The 2020 State of the Air report ranks the Las Vegas-Henderson metro area as the 9th most polluted in the country for ozone and the 25th most polluted for particulate matter. Air pollution from gas-powered cars including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds can worsen health problems. Children, the elderly, and people with conditions such as asthma or heart disease have a harder time breathing with these pollutants in the air. Low-income families and communities of color are often closer to major roads and bear the brunt of these health issues. Clean Car Standards would help reduce these pollutants from passenger vehicles and give Nevadans the option to drive cleaner cars. 

Nevada is charting a path toward a cleaner future:

Adopting Clean Car Standards helps Nevada achieve its clean energy and climate goals, and builds on years of action to support electric vehicles.


Then-Governor Sandoval and NV Energy announced a partnership to complete an electric highway system connecting Reno and Las Vegas. They then expanded that vision to have electric vehicle charging along every major highway in the state – a goal which will be achieved by the end of 2020.

Greater clean car standards


The Nevada Legislature passed SB 145, creating the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstration Program (EVID). In 2019 the Legislature expanded the program so funds could support electric school buses and infrastructure.


The Governor’s Office of Energy commissioned a report looking at opportunities to accelerate the electrification of transportation


Governor Sisolak announced that Nevada would join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 23 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 – a goal consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Nevada Legislature passed bills committing the state to get at least half of the state’s energy from renewable sources  by 2030 and setting goals to reach 100 percent clean energy and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Governor Sisolak signed both  into law. 

When the Trump Administration revoked California’s waiver to implement its Clean Car Standards, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford joined a multistate lawsuit challenging the decision.

Governor Sisolak signed an executive order directing agencies to develop a State Climate Strategy by December 2020 to reach greenhouse gas goals. At the press conference announcing the executive order, he said “I’m excited to announce that Nevada will stand with other leading states and begin moving towards stronger vehicle emission standards” 


Attorney General Aaron Ford joined 22 other states and the District of Columbia in challenging the Trump administration’s rollback of federal clean car standards

Governor Sisolak announced that Nevada would pursue Clean Car Standards for Nevada. The Nevada Clean Cars coalition launched to support this effort.


The Nevada Legislature passed and Governor Sisolak signed Senate Bill 448, which will accelerate the transition to electric vehicles through a $100 million investment from NV Energy in electric vehicle charging stations and electric buses, with at least 40 percent of this infrastructure located in historically underserved communities. 

After supporting electric vehicles in so many ways over the past few years, it’s time for Nevada to take the next step: passing Clean Car Standards.

By joining over a dozen other states in this commitment to more low-emission and electric vehicles on the road, Nevada can continue its climate leadership and keep residents healthy with cleaner air.

StateLEV ProgramZEV Program
MinnesotaUnder considerationUnder consideration
New Jersey
New MexicoUnder considerationUnder consideration
New York
Rhode Island
WashingtonUnder consideration

Nevadans deserve access to affordable electric vehicle options:

ZEV standards have been proven to provide more electric options when consumers go shopping for that next vehicle. There are currently 66 makes and models of EVs on the market in the United States, with 36 more set to come out by the end of 2021. Without the ZEV program, few of these makes and models would be available for purchase in Nevada. The state currently has an extremely limited inventory of clean vehicles on dealer lots, which means that consumers have to travel to neighboring states such as California to test drive and purchase these cars. This results in fewer options, higher prices, and Nevadans spending money out of state rather than at local dealerships.

Once Clean Car Standards are adopted, about 6 to 8 percent of all vehicles manufacturers deliver to Nevada dealerships in 2025 could be electric. This is equivalent to about 10,600 plug-in cars, which is almost five times more than the 2,300 electric cars sold in Nevada in 2018.

The price of electric vehicles continues to fall as more models enter the market, with one model coming in under $24,000. Bringing more electric vehicles to Nevada will continue to bring prices down and make them accessible to everybo

Washington is gridlocked, but states are charging forward:

Unfortunately, the current leadership at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not only stopped its efforts to encourage cleaner cars — it has also tried to take away states’ rights under the Clean Air Act to adopt these standards. Multiple states, including Nevada, are taking the EPA to court to get the decision overturned.

Once states’ rights to set stronger vehicle emission standards are reaffirmed, Nevada would be able to enforce a potential Clean Cars program. New Mexico and Minnesota have also both committed to considering clean car standards.

What Are the Benefits?

Cleaner cars and trucks save money 

Cleaner, lower-emitting gasoline vehicles can also be more fuel-efficient than their higher-emitting counterparts, which saves drivers money at the pump. Electric vehicles save money because they are three to four times more efficient than gasoline-powered vehicles. It’s cheaper to power a car with electricity than with gasoline. In Vegas, driving on electricity is the cost-equivalent of driving on $0.93/gallon gasoline. And on the right utility plan, it would cost as little as $0.41/gallon. Electric vehicle drivers also save money on maintenance costs—no oil means no oil changes!

Reduced emissions from transportation improves public health 

Smog and other vehicle pollution can be hazardous to public health by making it difficult to breathe and increasing cases of asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. Cleaner air means reduced respiratory illnesses and a better quality of life, including fewer hospital visits and a reduction in pollution-related work and school absences. Everybody benefits when we can improve worker productivity, educational outcomes, and lower health care costs.

Electric vehicles support jobs and keep money in Nevada 

As more of our power comes from renewable energy sources such as solar, we’re investing money in local jobs. Nearly 1,200 Nevadans have clean transportation jobs already and the ZEV Standard could double that by 2030. Nevada barely produces oil, and we send more than $4 billion out of state every year to buy fossil fuels. Clean Car Standards not only save consumers money – they keep those dollars circulating here at home. 

Lower vehicle emissions reduce climate impacts

Las Vegas is the fastest warming city in the United States and has gotten almost 6 degrees hotter since 1970. Wildfires and drought are also linked to our warming and drying climate. The best way to fight climate change is to use clean electricity to power our lives, including our cars.

What’s the Process?

The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) has started the process of creating regulations for Clean Car Standards, which will take several months and involve public meetings to get feedback from parents to business owners and everyone in between. It’s important for officials to hear from Nevadans who want cleaner air and the economic benefits of lower-emission vehicles in Nevada.

For over fifty years under the Clean Air Act, California and other states have the authority to adopt stronger-than-federal emission requirements on vehicles to address their own serious air pollution problems. More than a dozen states have already adopted their own state clean car programs, and Nevada can also do so to address unsafe pollution levels, such as in Clark and Washoe Counties.

For more information on the state’s rulemaking process, visit NDEP’s website.