PORTSMOUTH ó On Tuesday, the EPA issued an alert to southeastern New Hampshire residents warning of especially poor air quality due to ground level ozone. The warning asked that people limit their outdoor activity and emissions output by using public transportation.

Tuesday's alert followed the Aug. 2 notice from President Trumpís EPA and National Highway Administration of a proposal to roll back Obama-era clean car standards. Experts called the notice a monumental blow to the fight against climate change, as the clean car standards are aimed at reducing carbon pollution from vehicle tailpipes and saves consumers an estimated $92 billion on gas. The 2012 standards required automakers to almost double the fuel economy of passenger vehicles to an average of more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

The Trump administration proposal would freeze the increase of average fuel economy standards after 2021 at about 37 miles per gallon, according to the New York Times. The administration also said the promotion of lighter vehicles by the Obama-era standards could lead to about 12,700 more auto fatalities over the coming 13 years.

But despite the promise to rescind the clean car standards, communities in New Hampshire and Maine are already knee-deep in efforts to improve air quality, and some officials say the new standards won't impact motivation behind local efforts.

The transportation sector accounts for the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Hampshire and northern New England, according to the N.H. Department of Environmental Services. For the coastal arteries that run along Interstate 95, including Hampton, Greenland and Portsmouth, especially during the height of tourist season, the millions of tailpipes traveling both north and south have a significant emissions impact on these communities.

Portsmouth City Councilor Josh Denton, who also serves on the city's sustainability committee, said any decision made by the Trump administration to roll back automobile efficiency standards will not stop the city from fighting climate change locally, and continuing in its current efforts. In March, the City Council adopted a Renewable Energy Policy calling for not only city government, residences and businesses to achieve net zero energy, but extending that to all vehicles traveling through Portsmouth. The latter, Denton said, is by far the most difficult.

He said 73 percent of Portsmouth's carbon emissions come from the transportation sector with private automobiles remaining the primary mode of travel on local roadways and highways. In light of this, the city has already pioneered efforts to turn towards electrification.

"I want to help people electrify," Denton said of the electric car movement. Currently, the city has electric car charging stations at both City Hall and the High-Hanover Garage. With the completion of the Foundry Place Garage, there will be three more.

While Trump's proposed rollback "might increase the amount of carbon that's put out from the vehicles traveling up and down 95," Denton said, "it won't stop the march for progress."

He also noted the Portsmouth City Council is on the cusp of passing a new electric vehicle charging station ordinance, and it will look at the possibility of increasing solar incentives.

On Sept. 9, an electric vehicle show will be held at City Hall, "a great place for people to go to learn all about electrification," Denton said.

James Penfold, co-founder of EV LaunchPad, held the first electric vehicle show at Redhook Brewery last year. A "resounding success," he said, now it will come to downtown Portsmouth.

"The rollback is too late," Penfold said of Trump's proposal. "The genie for high-efficiency, low-emission vehicles is already out of the bottle. People are getting excited about driving electric vehicles to the point that it's not considered quirky. It's got to the point where they're performance vehicles. People aren't looking at them like a lower performance vehicle, they're looking at being able to have more fun in a vehicle that costs them less to own and operate in the long-term than a gas engine vehicle. As more friends and family start showing these off to each other, people get it. The penny drops."

Portsmouth's location next to major highways, Penfold said, is a blessing and a curse. "These vehicles are spewing toxic tailpipe emissions that Portsmouth residents breathe all day and night," he said.

Penfold said "it's only going to be a matter of time" before the mass market catches onto the fact "they're actually driving an inferior vehicle that is costing them more money." The rollback, Penfold said, could cause a headache for car manufacturers, though, who have been trying to meet the Obama-era standards.

"Portsmouth has committed to supporting EV rollout with various initiatives so that we're ready regardless," he said. "Even though it's not on everybody's horizon right now, locally all the time, there's more and more people interested in it."

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., said in a statement the Trump administration's proposal is "completely backward, undermining efforts at the state and federal level to build a cleaner environment for generations to come." Both she and Democratic colleague Sen. Jeanne Shaheen signed a resolution opposing the rollbacks.

"Combating the effects of climate change, which have been exacerbated by vehicle emissions, is an important issue that the United States has historically led on, and itís shameful that the administration is unraveling the progress weíve made," Shaheen said in a statement. "Iíll continue to oppose the administrationís actions that threaten our environment and public health, and will work to ensure New Hampshire families, and all Americans, have the right to fresh air, clean water and a safe environment."

Kittery, Maine, is also hopping on the electric vehicle bandwagon, holding an event Sept. 9 at the Kittery farmers' market on Shapleigh Road. State Rep. Deane Rykerson, D-Kittery, recently returned from a conference in southern California on climate change for state legislators from around the country.

"We talked about it quite a bit because in New England our carbon use for transportation is much more than electricity," he said. "The conference did talk about how it's going to be a very fast transition (to electric cars), and that once the economics and charging stations are worked out, we will have a prominence of electric cars."

Rykerson said next legislative session, he plants to present a bill proposing a carbon fee.