US States Suing EPA, Trump Administration
- Marsha Green
A major block of USA states have mounted a legal challenge against the Trump administration over its move to relax stringent vehicle emissions standards that were approved during President Obama's tenure. "I urge you to immediately disavow this proposal and instead work to negotiate a "win-win" solution on federal fuel economy and tailpipe emissions standards that can be supported by both the automobile industry and the State of California".
California is leading the multistate coalition in the petition for review, filed Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, report the New York Times, the Washington Post, the (San Jose) Mercury News and the Wall Street Journal. The standards set such strict greenhouse gas emissions limits that to meet the federal targets, auto makers will have to manufacture vehicles that achieve better gas mileage, along with building more electric and plug-in vehicles.
One effect of a rollback would be to "arbitrarily and capriciously" cancel an agreement California and the environmental agency hashed out several years ago to harmonize their emissions standards so auto and truck makers wouldn't have to deal with two conflicting sets of rules.
California was authorized to implement its own rules and dozens of states have adopted those standards.
EPA representatives did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the lawsuit. The EPA said in April that the waiver is "still being reexamined by the EPA under Administrator Pruitt's leadership".
Pruitt last month moved to reconsider fuel economy standards for the years 2022 through 2025, requirements set by the Obama administration and closely modeled on California's clean-car regulations.
Nichols said Pruett's decision to roll back emissions and fuel efficiency standards made "a mockery" of the EPA decision process, was not evidence-based, heralded "destruction of the one-plan" agreement between California and the EPA and "wiped away years of analysis with the stroke of a pen". Ultimately, industry executives may have to decide whether having one national standard is more important than gaining partial relief - unless, of course, the Trumpies can successfully repeal California's waiver and force it and its followers in other states to accept a lower standard. "If the administration continues down this path to weaken the fuel economy standards set in conjunction with California, they'll be inviting additional lawsuits".
The legal row over the 2012 standards is the latest twist in a long-running battle between the federal agency and California. But the new EPA plan would take away its ability to do that.
This fight is clearly still just in its early stages, and it will be watched closely as its repercussions will be felt around the world, starting right here in Canada.