Several states sue Trump over weakened car fuel economy standards
California leads 23 other states in legal challenge to president’s deregulation efforts
California and 23 other states, plus the District of Columbia, sued late May to stop the Trump administration from easing requirements on vehicle miles per gallon starting in 2021.
It’s the latest salvo by Democrat-led states to undue the federal government’s deregulatory efforts by using the courts.
A final ruling in the dispute will impact the fate of the auto industry under stress from the U.S. economic shutdown, the fuel costs borne by Americans, and pollution levels in the country.
The administration’s new rule, unveiled March 31, would require cars, trucks and SUVs to average roughly 40 miles per gallon from 2021 through 2026, as opposed to closer to 47 mpg under a standard proposed by President Barack Obama.
The lawsuit, which California officials said was filed Wednesday in Washington federal court, ramps up a legal war against President Donald Trump to preserve clean-car standards, and accuses his administration of violating the Clean Air Act. It also sets the stage for a prolonged battle as America tackles a public health crisis amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Separately, environmental advocacy groups filed a complaint targeting Trump’s rewrite of a rule aimed at slashing carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. Earlier this month, a libertarian group filed its own challenge, calling the revised national standards still too strict.
“Just read the text of the rule and you will discover that it is a job-killer and public health hazard,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “It will increase costs to consumers and allow the emission of dangerous pollutants that directly threaten the health of our families.”
Under Trump’s rules, the administration has calculated a $2,340 drop in overall average vehicle ownership costs for new vehicles. But the states say the administration is using “fuzzy math” to justify the rule and its economic benefits.
California and almost two dozen other states sued the Trump administration last year over its decision to strip California’s authority to make its own rules on tailpipe emissions.
Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW have already made a deal with California to meet rules that would be a compromise between Obama’s standards and Trump’s plans. Volvo, owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, followed up news of the revised federal rules by joining the group of carmakers volunteering to meet California’s tougher standards.