Energy & Environment

California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver

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California and 22 other states sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday, challenging President Trump’s decision to block the state from setting tougher tailpipe emissions standards.

Trump announced in September that he was revoking the waiver California has relied on for decades that require automakers to produce more environmentally friendly cars for the state and the more than dozen others that chose to adopt its tougher regulations.

“The Trump administration is trying to undo the progress we’ve made as a state and as a nation over the past decades. We can’t afford to do that. We cannot afford to backslide in our battle against climate change,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told reporters shortly after the suit was filed.

“California’s Clean Car Standards are achievable. They not only work, many other states around the country have chosen to adopt them. The Trump Administration, on the other hand, has chosen to side with polluters. We believe we’re on the right side of history,” he added. 

The suit comes as the Trump administration is looking to roll back Obama-era emissions standards and as California has been in negotiations with some major automakers to produce more fuel efficient vehicles. 

It also follows a similar challenge against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which helps determine regulations for fuel economy. 

In this case, the attorneys general, joined by the cities of Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York, argue that EPA lacks the authority to revoke the waiver, calling it “unprecedented in the multi-decade history of waiver requests.”

In a press conference with reporters in Santa Barbara, Becerra said the state has gotten more than 100 such waivers, including the most recent one granted in 2013 that Trump revoked.

The states argue Congress gave California special powers under the Clean Air Act. 

“Congress intended California to be able ‘to continue and expand its pioneering efforts at adopting and enforcing motor vehicle emission standards different from and in large measure more advanced than the corresponding federal program,’” the state wrote in earlier comments to EPA.

The EPA would not comment on the lawsuit, but said its pending regulations “will help ensure that there will be one, and only one, set of national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles.”

The administration has previously argued that one such standard will help automakers focus on producer cleaner, safer, cheaper vehicles.

The suit is the 33rd environmental challenge California has brought against the Trump administration.  

Becerra called the lawsuit “one part of a multi-part effort to push back on these Trump administration attacks on our clean car standards, on our environment and our state’s public health.”

The long battle between the state and the Trump administration has of late spurred the EPA to attack California’s environmental bonafides, threatening to withhold highway funds if the state didn’t work to clean up its air, along with blaming the state’s water quality issues on the homeless. 

—Updated at 4:45 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Xavier Becerra
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