Several States Vow Legal Fights if EPA Rolls Back Emission Regulations

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June 12, 2017—According to Law 360, more than a dozen Democratic state attorneys general vowed to take the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to court if the agency rolls back air pollution standards for vehicles, saying the standards, which would cut nearly half a million cars' worth of emissions annually, have already been approved through to 2025.

In a letter to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, a coalition of New York lawyers led by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said that it will take legal action if the EPA attempts to weaken air pollution standards set for passenger cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2022 to 2025, according to NACS.

“Reducing pollution from cars and trucks is vital to New Yorkers’ and all Americans’ health and environment, as we protect the clean air we’ve worked so hard to achieve and fight climate change,” Schneiderman said. “Any effort to roll back these affordable, achievable, and common-sense vehicle emission standards would be both irrational and irresponsible. We stand ready to vigorously and aggressively challenge President Trump’s dangerous anti-environmental agenda in court, as we already have successfully done.”

In 2012, the EPA adopted stringent standards for greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light-duty trucks for the 2017-25 model years. EPA also agreed to complete a midterm evaluation to confirm achievability of the more stringent standards for model years 2022-25. The 2022-25 standards would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of removing 422 million cars from the road and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 540 million metric tons, as well as improve vehicles’ fuel economy, according to the coalition.

EPA completed its midterm evaluation in January 2017, and the EPA, California Air Resources Board and the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration issued a report finding that the current greenhouse gas emission standards for model years 2022-25 can be met using existing available vehicle technology. After public notice and comment, EPA concluded that it would keep these standards in place. In March, the Trump administration announced that it would “revisit” EPA’s midterm evaluation decision.

Reacting to media reports that the Trump administration plans to roll-back current fuel economy emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-2025, U.S. Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), also pledged to oppose efforts to dismantle the Obama administration’s 54.5 mpg standard.

In the AG letter, the coalition expresses its strong disagreement with Administrator Pruitt’s contention that EPA’s midterm evaluation process was flawed, providing a point-by-point rebuttal of the administrator’s criticisms. The letter states that “the characterization in your May 2 letter that EPA ‘circumvented’ the required legal and scientific processes in its midterm evaluation is erroneous and inconsistent with your stated desire to ‘follow the letter of the law.’”

The coalition concludes the letter with the warning that if EPA acts to weaken or delay the current standards for model years 2022-25, “we intend to vigorously pursue appropriate legal remedies to block such action.”

Schneiderman is leading the coalition, which includes the Attorneys General of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.


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