States Should be Allowed to Protect Their Residents from Dirty Tailpipe Emissions

The EPA is blocking California and other states from curbing dangerous climate pollution from new cars. So NRDC is taking the agency to court.

BK via Flickr

Striking back against the Trump administration’s attack on clean cars, NRDC and a coalition of environmental groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today for blocking California and other states from enforcing their own stronger vehicle pollution standards. 

“The authority of California and other states to set clean car standards was clearly established by Congress and has been affirmed by the courts,” says David Doniger, NRDC senior attorney and strategic director of our Climate & Clean Energy Program. “The Trump administration’s attempt to revoke that authority has no legal basis.” 

NRDC and our partners filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C, challenging the EPA’s attempt to block California standards and prevent other states from following suit. The new case against the EPA complements another lawsuit by NRDC and partners targeting the U.S. Department of Transportation for its own effort to block California’s standards under another law.

California has long been the nation’s leader in curbing transportation pollution. More than 50 years ago, Congress gave the Golden State authority to set its own car pollution standards, and later gave other states the option to choose California’s standards over weaker federal ones. When California set standards for carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants 15 years ago, NRDC helped defend those standards against automaker lawsuits—and won. A decade ago, the auto industry gave up the fight and signed a landmark “clean car peace treaty” with the state and the federal government. The EPA and DOT then lined federal standards up with California’s. By 2025, climate pollution from new cars was set to be cut in half nationwide, and miles per gallon were set to double—saving drivers billions of dollars at the pump.

But even though cars and trucks remain the country’s largest climate polluters, the Trump administration is now trying to gut those federal standards. Because California and other states won’t go along, the Trump’s agencies are trying to block the states’ standards altogether.  

NRDC will meet them in court. “We will keep fighting to ensure that state leaders can protect their citizens from dirty air and the climate crisis,” Doniger says. 

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