States Sue to Defend National Clean Car Rules

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Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2018 7:52 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Moving to curb toxic air pollution and improve car gas mileage, California Governor Edmund Brown Jr., California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Air Resources Board announced California is leading an 18-state coalition to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to preserve the nation’s single vehicle emission standard.

"The states joining today’s lawsuit represent 140 million people who simply want cleaner and more efficient cars," said Governor Brown. "This phalanx of states will defend the nation’s clean car standards to boost gas mileage and curb toxic air pollution."

"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 Attorney General 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 standards we are fighting to protect were adopted in 2012 and don’t take effect until 2022. They were a lifeline thrown to an industry that was in trouble and desperate for stability. They were based on the best judgment of engineers about what technology could achieve. And in fact they are being achieved today, years ahead of the deadlines, because of the good work of the auto industry," said California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols. "But now Administrator Pruitt, based on no new information or facts, wants to roll back all that progress in the name of deregulation. The Final Determination is just the first step but it is intended to provide the legal basis for a decision that has already been made: to halt the progress that regulators and industry have made toward a new generation of vehicles. It does not withstand scrutiny and it will not stand."

This lawsuit, which was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeks to set aside and hold unlawful the U.S. EPA’s effort to weaken the existing clean car rules. The lawsuit is based on the fact that the U.S. EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously, failed to follow its own regulations and violated the Clean Air Act.

Beginning in 2010, the U.S. EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and California Air Resources Board established a single national program of greenhouse gas emissions standards for model year 2012-2025 vehicles. This program allows automakers to design and manufacture to a single target. The rules save drivers money at the pump, cut oil consumption, reduce air pollution and curb greenhouse gases.

Last year, the U.S. EPA affirmed these standards were appropriate based on an extensive record of data. The California Air Resources Board also affirmed the standards were appropriate and that the federal government should continue to support a single national program for all states.

On April 13, 2018, however, the U.S. EPA, without evidence to support the decision, arbitrarily reversed course and claimed that the clean car standards for model years 2022-2025 should be scrapped. The federal government offered no evidence to support this decision and the forthcoming rulemaking intended to weaken the existing 2022-2025 standards.

The federal standard the states are suing to protect is estimated to reduce carbon pollution equivalent to 134 coal power plants burning for a year, and save drivers $1,650 per vehicle. The car industry is on track to meet or exceed these standards.

The 18 jurisdictions joining this legal action represent approximately 43 percent of the U.S. automobile market and approximately 140 million people: California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

SOURCE: United States Climate Alliance

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