Seeking to set aside the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's withdrawal of the Obama Administration's 2022-2025 automobile greenhouse-gas standards, 17 states and the District of Columbia are taking the EPA to court.


Traffic in Los Angeles, California, April 21, 2018 (Photo by Jeff Turner)


The states' lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argues that the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously, failed to follow its own regulations, and violated the Clean Air Act.


The lawsuit accuses the agency of failing to follow regulations and violating the Clean Air Act with its plan to roll back Obama-era mileage regulations on vehicles.


In April, EPA withdrew its previous decision to retain the 2022-2025 automobile greenhouse-gas standards, prompting the lawsuit.


Saying they are motivated "to curb toxic air pollution and improve car gas mileage," California Governor Jerry Brown, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and the California Air Resources Board announced May 1 that they are leading the coalition of states in suing the EPA "to preserve the nation’s single vehicle emission standard.


"The states joining today’s lawsuit represent 140 million people who simply want cleaner and more efficient cars," said Governor Brown. "This phalanx of states will defend the nation’s clean car standards to boost gas mileage and curb toxic air pollution."


"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," said Attorney General Becerra.


"Enough is enough," Becerra said. "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 standards we are fighting to protect were adopted in 2012 and don’t take effect until 2022. They were a lifeline thrown to an industry that was in trouble and desperate for stability," said California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols.


"They were based on the best judgment of engineers about what technology could achieve," she said. "And in fact they are being achieved today, years ahead of the deadlines, because of the good work of the auto industry."


"But now Administrator Pruitt, based on no new information or facts, wants to roll back all that progress in the name of deregulation," Nichols said, speaking for the states. "It does not withstand scrutiny and it will not stand."


The federal standard the states are suing to protect is estimated to reduce carbon pollution equivalent to 134 coal power plants burning for a year and to save drivers $1,650 per vehicle. The car industry is on track to meet or exceed these standards, the states assert.


Joining California in filing suit against the EPA are the attorneys general of: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.


The coalition represents roughly 43 percent of the new car sales market nationally and 44 percent of the U.S. population.


By Sunny Lewis

Environment News Service (ENS)

May 4, 2018