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9 Environmental Groups Sue the U.S. Dept of Transportation Over California Emission Ruling

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【Summary】​As the Trump administration is actively trying to prevent the state of California from setting its own automobile emission standards, the push back from automakers and environmental groups continues. Nine environmental groups sued the U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) on Friday over its efforts to strip California of its strict emissions requirements.

FutureCar Staff    Sep 27, 2019 5:00 PM PT
9 Environmental Groups Sue the U.S. Dept of Transportation Over California Emission Ruling

As the Trump administration is actively trying of prevent the state of California from setting its own automobile emission standards, the pushback from automakers and environmental groups continues.

Nine environmental groups sued the U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) on Friday over its efforts to strip California of its strict emissions requirements. The groups include Environment America, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

The environmental groups are joining 23 other states, the District of Columbia and the cities of Los Angeles and New York City, which together filed a similar suit in U.S. District Court in Washington.

"There's no legal basis for the Trump administration's efforts to leave Californians choking on smog and helpless to curb greenhouse gas pollution spewing out of car tailpipes," said Maya Golden-Krasner, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Transportation Department declined to comment. Its determination is formally set to take effect in late November.

For decades, California has played a national role in influencing what Americans drive. The state's vehicle emissions rules have been more stringent than the EPA's rules governing other states. A dozen other states have adopted the California emission requirements and together the the vehicles adhering to the stricter standards make up 40% of the auto industry.

This week, Minnesota and New Mexico rebuffed the Trump administration as well, and said they would adopt California's emission requirements.

The suit challenges the determination unveiled last week by the Transportation Department and its agency the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, that federal law preempts state and local regulation of vehicle fuel economy.

The legal challenges do not yet address a parallel decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revoke a 2013 waiver California received under the Clean Air Act to set emissions standards.

In August, the Justice Department launched an antitrust probe of Ford Motor Co, Volkswagen AG, BMW AG and Honda Motor Co that struck a separate agreement with California to vehicle reduce emissions.

Democratic members of Congress have demanded that the Justice Department and White House turn over documents and explain the decision to probe the automakers. A person briefed on the matter told Reuters that the Justice Department will begin meeting with the four automakers next week, confirming a Wall Street Journal report.

On Friday, California Senator Dianne Feinstein asked the EPA's inspector general to investigate the agency's threat to withhold state highway funding because of the state's poor air quality. The EPA said Friday in response that its actions "are not political." However few believe that is not the case.

California also has the highest number of electric vehicle sales than any other state in the U.S. 46.8% percent of all electric vehicle sold in the U.S. are in California.



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