The past month has been quite strenuous on the relationship between the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of California. Back in April, EPA chief Scott Pruitt announced they would be rolling back the fuel-efficiency regulations set towards the end of President Obama's tenure. The EPA also announced that it was considering revoking California's waiver to set their own emission standards. A few days later, we reported that the officials from the White House, California, and automakers were trying to work out a possible emissions deal to prevent a legal fight. It seems those talks went nowhere as California along with sixteen other states and the District of Columbia have filed suit challenging the rollback.
On Tuesday, the collation led by California filed a suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia challenging the rollback. This group makes up 40 percent of the U.S. auto market.
"The states joining today's lawsuit represent 140 million people who simply want cleaner and more efficient cars. This phalanx of states will defend the nation's clean car standards to boost gas mileage and curb toxic air pollution," said California Governor Jerry Brown in a statement.
The suit alleges that the EPA decision to roll back the regulation lacked any scientific reason. The EPA is also accused of failing to follow its own regulations and violating the Clean Air Act.
“This is California saying: You really want war? We’ll give you war. It’s a signal to the administration that they’re not going to get away with anything in this space,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign to the New York Times.
According to Reuters, the Department of Transportation has a draft proposal of the changes that is expected to be released to the public later this month. The draft would freeze emission requirements for vehicles at 2020 levels through 2026. The draft also asserts that the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 bars California from imposing their own rules, even with the waiver. This proposal has already earned the ire of the public and various members of the U.S. Senate. One Senator, Tom Carper, D-Delaware obtained a copy of the proposal and sent a scathing letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and Pruitt.
“Such a proposal, if finalized, would harm U.S. national and economic security, undermine efforts to combat global warming pollution, create regulatory and manufacturing uncertainty for the automobile industry and unnecessary litigation, increase the amount of gasoline consumers would have to buy, and runs counter to statements that both of you have made to Members of Congress,” wrote Carper.
There is a lot riding on this suit as it could possibly cause the U.S. to have two different emission regulations and automakers having to meet both of them.
"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," said Xavier Becerra, California state attorney general.
Yesterday, the White House announced that it will be meeting with leaders of the major automakers next week. The meeting will be talking about the planned changes to the fuel efficiency rules. It is expected that automakers will be trying to push the Trump administration and California to agree to a national standard.