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Environmental Lawsuits Filed By Several States Over Trump Car Emission Standards Rollbacks

Attorneys General from Michigan, California and Colorado and several other states have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the rollback of national Clean Car Standards, which govern how much air pollution vehicles can release.

In a petition for review (PDF) issued on May 27 in the federal D.C. Court of Appeals, 23 states, plus the District of Columbia and the cities of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Denver, have joined as a coalition calling for the appeals court to review a final rule (PDF) published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on April 30.

That rule, known as the SAFE Vehicles Rule amends carbon dioxide and fuel economy standards first set in 2010. Originally the Clean Car Standards required automakers to make an annual improvement to fuel economy of at least five percent. The recently announced rollback of the rule cuts that requirement down to 1.5% annually.

The coalition’s petition argues the rollback is unlawful because it violates congressional mandates and unlawfully relied on “errors, omissions and unfounded assumptions in an attempt to justify their desired result,” according to a press release from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

“The Trump administration touted the SAFE Vehicles Rule as giving the American people better access to safer, more affordable vehicles that are cleaner for the environment. But it does none of these things,” Nessel says in the press release. “Instead, this rule sabotages investment in technology that is better for the environment and slashes incentives to increase fuel efficiency which is better for drivers.”

In addition, the new rule revoked California’s previous authority to set its own fuel economy standards, which 13 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, had already adopted, according to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The petition lists as plaintiffs the states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as the Commonwealths of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and the cities of D.C., Los Angeles, New York, the city and county of San Francisco and the city and county of Denver. It names as defendants Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of the EPA, the EPA itself, Elaine L. Chao, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the department itself, as well as James C. Owens, acting administrator of the NHTSA and the NHTSA.

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