Trump Strips States’ Power to Curb Dangerous Auto and Truck Pollution

The administration’s move will obstruct the fight to protect our climate, cut pollution, and save consumers billions at the pump.

San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge in Oakland, California

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For half a century, California has been the nation’s leader in fighting dangerous air pollution from cars and trucks, using its right under the Clean Air Act to set its own emission standards. Today, Trump declared that his administration will move to block California—and its state allies.

“Only the mean-spirited Trump administration would think it makes sense to deny clean air to 118 million Americans in 14 states,” says Luke Tonachel, director for clean vehicles and fuels at NRDC. “State leaders need the ability to protect their citizens from dangerous air pollution and the ravages of the climate crisis.”

Cars and trucks are the largest climate polluters in the United States, emitting more carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollution than power plants or any other industry. California, joined by 13 other states, took the lead to address this problem—and in a historic deal 10 years ago, the federal government agreed to match California’s standards nationwide. But last year, the Trump administration went in reverse, proposing to gut federal standards for climate pollution and fuel economy—and is now trying to block California and other states from doing any more.

“The administration should drop this wrongheaded idea and work with state leaders,” Tonachel says, “not against them.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation are trying to reopen a legal battle waged—and lost—by automakers and the Bush administration. “Federal judges have twice ruled that states have the authority to set standards to curb carbon pollution,” says David Doniger, senior strategic director of NRDC’s Climate & Clean Energy Program. Now, not even the automakers want this fight.

These actions will trigger yet another legal battle to stop the Trump administration from destroying public health and the climate. “We will fight this in court,” says Doniger. “And we will win.”

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