LOS ANGELES — California’s greenhouse gas emissions fell below 1990 levels, meeting an early target years ahead of schedule and putting the state well on its way toward reaching long-term goals to fight climate change, officials said Wednesday.
The California Air Resources Board announced that pollution levels were down 13 percent since their 2004 peak — as the economy grew 26 percent since that year. The achievement was roughly equal to taking 12 million cars off the road or saving 6 billion gallons of gasoline a year, the board said.
Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols called it ‘‘great news for the health of Californians, the state’s environment, and its economy.’’
Greenhouse gas emissions dropped 2.7 percent in 2016 — the latest year available — to about 430 million metric tons, the board said. That’s just below the 431 million metric tons produced in 1990.
California law requires that emissions return to 1990 levels by 2020 and reach 40 percent below that marker by 2030. The Air Resources Board has broad authority to achieve those goals in the nation’s most populous state.
‘‘California set the toughest emissions targets in the nation, tracked progress, and delivered results,’’ Governor Jerry Brown said Wednesday.
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