As was earlier threatened, California officials are leading a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia in suing the Environmental Protection Agency to preserve the nation’s single vehicle emission standard.
“The evidence is irrefutable: today’s clean car standards are achievable, science-based and a boon for hardworking American families. But the EPA and Administrator Scott Pruitt refuse to do their job and enforce these standards,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Enough is enough. We’re not looking to pick a fight with the Trump administration, but when the stakes are this high for our families’ health and our economic prosperity, we have a responsibility to do what is necessary to defend them.”
The lawsuit, which was filed May 1 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeks to set aside and hold unlawful the EPA’s effort to roll back the nation’s existing clean car rules. The lawsuit claims the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously, failed to follow its own regulations, and violated the Clean Air Act.
Beginning in 2010, the EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the California Air Resources Board established a single national program of greenhouse gas emissions standards for model year 2012-2025 vehicles. This program allows auto makers to design and manufacture to a single target. Last year, the EPA affirmed that these standards were appropriate based on an extensive record of data. The California Air Resources Board also affirmed the standards and that the federal government should continue to support a single national program for all states.
On April 13, however, the EPA “arbitrarily reversed course” and claimed that the clean car standards for model years 2022-2025 should be scrapped. “The Administration offered no evidence to support this decision or its forthcoming rulemaking designed to weaken the existing 2022-2025 standards,” a statement by the plaintiffs says.
Last month, Pruitt announced the completion of the Midterm Evaluation process for the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-2025. His final determination was that the current standards “are not appropriate and should be revised.”
“The Obama Administration's determination was wrong,” Pruitt said. “Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.”
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA sets national standards for vehicle tailpipe emissions of certain pollutants. Through a CAA waiver granted by the EPA, California can impose stricter standards for vehicle emissions of certain pollutants than federal requirements. The California waiver is still being reexamined by the EPA under Pruitt’s direction.
Joining Becerra, California Governor Jerry Brown, and the California Air Resources Board in filing the lawsuit were the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
Minnesota filed by and through its Pollution Control Agency and Department of Transportation.
The coalition joining the lawsuit represent approximately 43 percent of the new car sales market nationally and 44 percent of the U.S. population.