Intent to Sue Over Rollback of Clean Car Rule
Hawai‘i Attorney General Russell Suzuki joined a coalition of 19 states and the District of Columbia, in releasing the following joint statement announcing an intention to challenge the Trump Administration’s illegal and environmentally-destructive plan to roll back federal limits on tailpipe pollution from cars and trucks. The coalition includes every state attorney general from jurisdictions that have adopted California’s more stringent standards to reduce vehicle emissions, improve miles/gallon, and save drivers money on gas.
“Federal rules to limit tailpipe pollution and improve fuel economy are our best strategy to reduce carbon pollution, improve air quality, and save drivers money on gas. The Administration’s proposal to weaken these rules will cause the American people to breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pump. If adopted, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s rollbacks will cost American drivers hundreds of billions of dollars. Freezing or weakening these standards puts the health of our children, seniors, and all communities at risk, and increases the rising costs of climate change for our states. This decision upends decades of cooperative state and federal action to protect our residents. We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.”
Hawai‘i Governor David Ige agreed with the Attorneys General stating, “Hawai‘i strongly supports the 2012 federal car standards. Clean vehicles reduce pollution and protect the health of our communities, and these standards are a key tool in fighting climate change. At a time when global innovation is focused on transforming to a sustainable energy future, the EPA’s move is out of step and taking us in the wrong direction.”
Background on Clean Cars Rule:
Globally, the transportation sector is the fastest growing source of dangerous greenhouse gas pollution. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the transportation sector has surpassed the electric power sector and is now the nation’s largest source of carbon dioxide emissions. Cars and light duty trucks make up 60 percent of the country’s transportation sector and are the main driver of U.S. dependence on oil, including foreign imports.
Beginning in 2010, EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the California Air Resources Board agreed to establish a single national program to limit greenhouse gas emissions from model year 2012–2025 vehicles. This program allows automakers to design and manufacture vehicles that will comply with tailpipe standards in all states.
The current federal standards for model year 2022-2025 vehicles are estimated to:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 540 million metric tons;
- Remove the equivalent of 422 million cars from the road; and,
- Save drivers $1,650 per vehicle.
If enacted, EPA’s proposal to freeze the emissions standards at 2020 levels would:
- Reduce average fuel economy from an estimated 46.8 miles per gallon in model year 2026 vehicles to 37 miles per gallon;
- Increase the country’s oil consumption by 5.3 to 11.9 million gallons per day in 2025;
- Result in 16 to 37 million metric tons more carbon pollution in 2025; and,
- Cost Americans roughly $193 billion to $236 billion more at the pump through 2035.
In January 2017, EPA determined, in its “midterm evaluation,” that the 2022-2025 standards are readily achievable by the auto industry. After an extensive technical review, based in significant part on information from industry, advocates, and other interested parties, EPA found that “automakers are well positioned to meet the standards at lower costs than previous estimated.” However, in April, EPA arbitrarily reversed course and claimed that the greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2022–2025 vehicles should be scrapped. The Administration offered no evidence other than a meager record of self-serving industry analysis to support this decision and deferred further analysis to a forthcoming rulemaking.
A coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia—who together represent 44% of the U.S population and 43% of the national new car sales market—sued the agency last month over its decision to withdraw the agency’s evaluation supporting the standards. The lawsuit is based on the fact that EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously, failed to follow its own Clean Car regulations, and violated the Clean Air Act.
In its draft rule, EPA not only proposes to freeze federal emissions standards at 2020 levels but also threatens the authority of states to enforce stronger standards to protect residents. The Clean Air Act authorizes California to adopt emission standards that are more stringent than the federal standards and other states are authorized to adopt those same standards for new motor vehicles sold within their states. California’s standards have a huge impact and are vitally important to public health for millions of Americans. The proposed rule would eliminate the California standard, subjecting every state to less efficient and dirtier standards.
Massachusetts and the other 11 states that follow California’s standards are home to 74 million people or approximately one-quarter of the country’s population. These states consume more than 28 billion gallons of gas annually, approximately one-fifth of the national total. If EPA succeeds in rescinding the authority of California and the states that follow its standards, the drivers in all those states stand to pay approximately $65 to $80 billion more in gasoline costs through 2035 than if those states retain their authority to enforce the current California standards.
The coalition includes; Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, Delaware Attorney General Matthew Denn, Hawai‘i Attorney General Russell Suzuki, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills,Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Vermont Attorney GeneralT.J. Donovan, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine