Trump’s decision to revoke California’s ability to limit auto emissions could have one unintended consequence

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By rescinding California’s ability to set stricter standards for vehicle emissions, President Trump’s move could adversely affect thousands of homeowners in the Golden State, a report released Friday said. Trump announced last week that his administration would no longer give California the authority to set automobile mileage standards stricter than those mandated by the federal government. California was granted the ability to impose tougher emissions regulations thanks a waiver Congress had issued as part of the Clean Air Act of 1970.

The new analysis from found that nearly half a million households live within a quarter mile of primary roads in California, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Around 322,000 households reside in single-family homes in close proximity to these major thoroughfares, while around 98,000 live in nearby condos and 37,000 live in other multi-family dwellings such as apartment buildings and duplexes. These households are within the zone where homes are most affected by traffic pollution, according to the American Lung Association.

As pollution worsens, air quality becomes an increasingly important consideration in people’s searches for homes. A 2015 study found that people were willing to pay up to $3,272 more for a home with reduced exposure to nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide. A separate study released last year on the impact of haze on home prices in Chengdu, China, found that a slight decrease in air quality lead to a decline in home and rent prices of between 3.97% and 4.01%.

Homes near major roads or highways are already cheaper — the single-family homes and condos that are within a quarter mile of these roads are 7.6% more affordable than other homes in the same ZIP codes, according to While factors such as the noise generated by cars and trucks and a lack of privacy certainly play a role in why these properties are less desirable and therefore more affordable, but pollution is a major factor.

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If pollution in the state gets worse due to the relaxed emissions standards, pending a legal challenge to Trump’s order, that would be bad news for homeowners, experts say. Transportation is the No. 1 cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, according to a 2019 study from the California Air Resources Board. And some of the main gases emitted by cars and trucks, such as nitrogen dioxide, are the primary components of smog.

The state’s high-priced housing market has likely already contributed to vehicle-related emissions worse as people in many parts of California have been forced to move further and further away from where they work to afford a place to live.