States, Cities and Green Groups Sue to Stop Trump Fuel Efficiency Rollback
Twenty-three states and Washington, DC launched a suit Wednesday to stop the Trump administration rollback of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks.
The Trump rollback, finalized in March, slashed a requirement that automakers increase fuel efficiency by five percent a year through 2026 to 1.5 percent, Reuters reported. The lower standard undid the single greatest U.S. attempt to fight the climate crisis, The New York Times pointed out, and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) own scientists warned it could increase deadly air pollution.
"Vehicles are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in America, and pollution-related respiratory illnesses make people more susceptible to Covid-19," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told The New York Times.
#BREAKING: we’re suing the Trump Administration over its reckless rollback of national #CleanCarStandards.@RealDonaldTrump’s so-called SAFE rule is a job killer and a public health hazard. #SaveCleanCars https://t.co/1dILJu88yC pic.twitter.com/6ceaoC8F2t— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) May 27, 2020
President Donald Trump has touted the new standards as the most important rollback of his time in office and argued they would help the economy and the auto industry. The industry, however, is split on the new rules, with the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which includes General Motors and Toyota, backing the administration, while Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen have struck a deal with California to follow tougher standards.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, whose state has also joined the suit, told Reuters the new standards would actually decrease auto industry employment by four percent.
Nessel also called the new rule a "gift to the fossil fuel industry" and "a slap in the face to public health," according to Reuters and The New York Times respectively.
The EPA did not comment on the lawsuit, but defended the new standards as a "sensible, single national program that strikes the right regulatory balance, protects our environment, and sets reasonable targets for the auto industry," according to Reuters. However, the administration's own figures show the new rule would increase greenhouse gas emissions by at least 867 million metric tons compared to the original standards, The New York Times reported. The difference amounts to more than the yearly emissions of many midsized countries.
This is the 82nd lawsuit California has filed against the Trump administration, according to Becerra, and most of the suits have targeted environmental rollbacks. The suit claims the reduced standards violate national laws requiring the government to issue the highest possible standards for automakers, The Hill explained.
The states are joined in the suit by the cities of New York City, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Reuters reported.
Moments after the state lawsuit was filed, a coalition of 12 environmental groups including the Sierra Club issued a separate legal challenge to the new rules, The Hill reported.
Bit of a litigious day when you've got ~40 parties suing you over your clean car rule all at once.— Rebecca Beitsch (@RebeccaBeitsch) May 27, 2020
Obama rule: 55 mpg by 2025
Trump rule: 40 mpg by 2026https://t.co/ZLVvFYmxKO
"This flawed rule — which will increase pollution, endanger public health, cut auto jobs, and further burden American families with higher fueling costs — will not hold up in court, just like the vast majority of the Trump Administration's unjustified actions," the Sierra Club said in a statement reported by The Hill.
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By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.