AG Healey Promises Legal Fight Against the Trump Administration Over Rollback of Vehicle Emissions Standards
Joins Coalition of 13 Attorneys General in Letter to the EPA Pledging to Defend Standards for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Cars and Light-Duty Trucks
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of 13 attorneys general in sending a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt threatening legal action if the Trump administration rolls back critical federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light-duty trucks.
“The American people want cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars on the road, and the auto industry has made it possible,” said AG Healey. “We cannot let President Trump and Administrator Pruitt stall our progress, and we will take legal action to stop them.”
In the letter, the attorneys general refute Administrator Pruitt’s assertion in a May 2 letter to California Gov. Jerry Brown that EPA’s evaluation process for the federal standards was legally flawed. The attorneys general argue that the federal standards for greenhouse gas emissions together with the standards that California has adopted are readily achievable and will successfully reduce the pollution emitted by cars and light-duty trucks – which is harmful to the environment and public health.
“If EPA acts to weaken or delay the current standards for model years 2022-25, like California, we intend to vigorously pursue appropriate legal remedies to block such action,” the letter states.
Joining AG Healey in today’s letter are the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection.
In March 2017, AG Healey joined with other attorneys general in issuing a joint statement condemning President Trump’s action directing federal agencies to reconsider the current federal vehicle emission standards.
Since cars and trucks emit a large amount of air pollutants that are harmful to human health and the environment, Section 202 of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to establish national emission standards for new motor vehicles. Section 209 of the Act authorizes the State of California to adopt emission standards that are generally more stringent than the federal standards, and Section 177 of the Act authorizes other states to adopt those same standards for new motor vehicles sold within their states.
In 2009, the EPA, the California Air Resources Board and the Department of Transportation’s Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) partnered with the auto industry and other stakeholders to determine how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using technology that is already readily available and affordable. This cooperation between the EPA and the other partners resulted in the EPA adopting emission standards limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2017-25 and beyond. California has adopted parallel vehicle emission standards limiting greenhouse gas emissions for those same model years, which Massachusetts and several other states have adopted as state law.
The 2022-25 standards alone would slash carbon emissions by the equivalent of removing 422 million cars from the road (dramatically cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 540 million metric tons), as well as improve vehicles’ fuel economy – resulting in net benefits of nearly $100 billion total, including a net savings of $1,650 for each consumer over the lifetime of a new vehicle.
In January 2017, EPA determined, in its “midterm evaluation,” that 2022-25 standards are readily achievable by the auto industry. After an extensive technical review, based in significant part on information from industry, advocates, and other interested parties, EPA found that “automakers are well positioned to meet the standards at lower costs than previous estimated.” The agency concluded that, while the record supported making the standards even more stringent, it decided “to retain the current standards to provide regulatory certainty for the auto industry.” In March 2017, California completed its own midterm review and reaffirmed its current, parallel standards after participating in the federal process and conducting its own analysis of the feasibility of the standards. However, the Trump administration announced in March that it would “revisit” EPA’s midterm evaluation decision. Earlier this month Administrator Pruitt declared that the midterm evaluation was legally and procedurally flawed.
Together with other attorneys general, AG Healey has already successfully taken on the Trump administration’s environmental agenda, resulting in the administration reversing course on energy efficiency standards last month. Attorney General Healey is also a leader in the coalition of state and localities defending the Clean Power Plan; has taken action to oppose President Trump’s efforts to dismantle the Clean Water Rule, allow the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos to remain in food, and roll back clean air standards for smog.
Earlier this week, AG Healey and 18 other Attorneys General have joined forces with governors, mayors, business leaders and universities across the country pledging to maintain their commitment to fighting climate change and abiding by the principles of the global Paris Climate Agreement.