California leads states in suing Trump over vehicle emissions rollback

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Traffic moves along southbound Interstate 880 near Dixon Landing Road in Milpitas on August 31, 2016.

Moving to curb toxic air pollution and improve auto gas mileage, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and the California Air Resources Board announced that they are leading a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia in suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to preserve the nation's single vehicle emission standard. "The only way we're going to overcome that is by reducing emissions", Gov. California governor Jerry Brown said in a news conference, "This is about health, it's about life and death".

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has said the standards are not appropriate and need revision.

Today's lawsuit was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. "This phalanx of states will defend the nation's clean vehicle standards to boost gas mileage and curb toxic air pollution".

Brown has made climate change the hallmark issue of his second governorship, often offering himself as an alternative American political leader in global forums.

The Obama-era agreement, passed in 2011, requires that all cars have an efficiency of about 50 miles per gallon by 2025. The standards set such strict greenhouse gas emissions limits that to meet the federal targets, auto makers will have to manufacture vehicles that achieve better gas mileage, along with building more electric and plug-in vehicles. Lawsuits like this one might be able to delay these changes even longer, perhaps long enough so that a new, more sympathetic administration, is in office.

Those rules have been sent to the White House for review, but have not yet been made public.

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But, spurred by industry requests to relax the standards, the Trump administration is reportedly proposing to freeze targets at the 2020 level of 42 miles per gallon and leave that guideline in place through 2026.

The state of California, one of the signatories of the legal action, has for decades benefited from a derogation allowing it to set its own, stricter standards.

Pruitt last month moved to reconsider fuel economy standards for the years 2022 through 2025, requirements set by the Obama administration and closely modeled on California's clean-car regulations.

Democratic politicians, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, backed the states.

"Enough means enough. It is not about how to look for a conflict with the administration of trump". They aim to "set aside and hold unlawful" the newer (and weaker, compared to those adopted in 2012) fuel economy standards, which are slated to take effect in 2022. "We fully support the states' legal challenge". The states also claim several violations, including that of the Clean Air Act. That's because when the law was signed, California had the nation's worst smog problem. When Bush denied California's request, the state sued. "There simply is no acceptable justification for throwing the analysis out in order to roll back the standards", she said.

This comes as California and 16 other states have sued to stop the EPA from weakening fuel-efficiency automobile standards. And he said the standards would hurt automakers and consumers who can't afford or don't want to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles.

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