Environmental groups sue Trump administration over tailpipe emissions rollback

Environmental groups sue Trump administration over tailpipe emissions rollback
© Greg Nash

Environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration Friday to challenge a recent decision that would limit California and 13 other states from regulating their own vehicle emissions standards.

Environment America, The Center for Biological Diversity, The Sierra Club and other green groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) challenging that its decision to revoke California’s waiver to regulate its own tailpipe emissions, vested under the Clean Air Act, violates the law.

“EPA doesn’t have the authority to withdraw a waiver, and, even if it did, none of the justifications put forth stand up to scrutiny,” Mike Landis, Environment America’s attorney in the litigation.


The ruling filed in the Federal Circuit Court in Washington, D.C follows a finalized joint decision by the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in September that revoked California's ability to regulate emissions in the state at a more stringent standard than the federal government. California had previously been granted the waiver under the Obama Administration and currently 13 other states follow its heightened regulations.

When establishing federal vehicle emissions standards, the Obama administration worked hand in hand with the Golden State to establish what was considered one unified standard, so that carmakers could manufacturer models that followed all state regulations.

The Trump administration’s move in September was the first of two anticipated steps to reverse those Obama-era regulations. The EPA is expected to next suggest an emissions standard that is lower than the regulations put in place under Obama.

California’s attorney general and 22 other states sued the Trump administration in their own suit last week challenging President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE’s decision to block the state from setting tougher tailpipe emissions standards.

Critics say the Trump administration's move is not only illegal, it will lead to greater pollution.

“EPA’s actions threaten the progress of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and the health of local rivers, streams, and the Bay by undermining programs that reduce nitrogen oxides and greenhouse gases from motor vehicles," said Ariel Solaski, staff litigation attorney at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a group that jointly filed the suit.

"With states’ authority to establish these standards eliminated, critical air programs are effectively destroyed in violation of EPA’s statutory duties to protect public health and the environment under the Clean Air Act.”