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17 U.S. States Sue Trump Administration Over Roll Back of Vehicle Emission Standards

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【Summary】California and 16 other states, including the District of Columbia, are suing the Trump administration over its decision to roll back vehicle fuel efficiency standards.

Paul Young    Jun 07, 2018 1:54 PM PT
17 U.S. States Sue Trump Administration Over Roll Back of Vehicle Emission Standards

WASHINGTON — California and 16 other states, including the District of Columbia, are suing the Trump administration over its decision to roll back vehicle fuel efficiency standards. The multi-state suit was filed Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The EPA said in April that the standards are too restrictive and should be revised.

In August 2012, the Obama Administration finalized standards to increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. When combined with previous standards, the move nearly doubled the fuel efficiency of those vehicles compared to new vehicles currently on our roads.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the Administrative Procedures Act, which bars against "arbitrary and capricious decisions", and violated the Clean Air Act last month when it withdrew the greenhouse gas standard and the related Department of Transportation efficiency standards for model year 2022 through 2025 light-duty vehicles.

Becerra's office said the federal standard that states are suing to protect was estimated to reduce carbon pollution equivalent to 134 coal power plants burning for a year and to save drivers $1,650 per vehicle in fuel costs.

"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," Becerra said in a statement.

"Enough is enough," he added. "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 states argue the EPA did not give evidence to support its decision to weaken the rule and they are now asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review its decision.

"Based on our review and analysis of the comments and information submitted, and EPA's own analysis, the Administrator believes that the current GHG emission standards for MY 2022–2025 light-duty vehicles presents challenges for auto manufacturers due to feasibility and practicability, raises potential concerns related to automobile safety and results in significant additional costs on consumers, especially low-income consumers," the EPA said in a notice in the Federal Register last month.

Since his appointment as EPA chief, Pruitt has been criticized for announcing plans to implement restrictions on what kinds of science the EPA can use to fulfill its mission to protect public health and the environment.

Under the rumored proposal, the EPA couldn't use a study unless it's perfectly "replicable" and all the underlying raw data is released to the public. That means that many of studies that are the foundation of our entire understanding of the public health impacts of pollution and exposure to toxic chemicals would be sidelined and ignored.

In a statement Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, backed the states.

The Trump administration cannot ignore the science and the law," she said. "If the administration continues down this path to weaken the fuel economy standards set in conjunction with California, they'll be inviting additional lawsuits.

She said a 1,200-page technical analysis found the current standards were working and at a much lower cost for the auto manufacturers. "There simply is no acceptable justification for throwing the analysis out in order to roll back the standards," she said.

In addition to California and D.C., Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Minnesota joined the lawsuit.

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