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Press Release AG Healey Sues Trump Administration Over Illegal Attack on States’ Authority to Set Clean Car Standards

Coalition of States and Cities Challenging EPA’s Revocation of California Waiver That Permits Massachusetts and Others to Set Strong Vehicle Emissions Standards
For immediate release:
11/15/2019
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact for AG Healey Sues Trump Administration Over Illegal Attack on States’ Authority to Set Clean Car Standards

Chloe Gotsis

BOSTON Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of states in suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its illegal attempt to revoke California’s long-held authority to set its own greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions standards for new cars and trucks. Massachusetts is one of 12 other states that follow, in whole or in part, these emissions standards as a key part of the state’s efforts to reduce pollution, protect public health, and fight the destructive effects of climate change.

“For decades, our state has adopted and enforced California’s emissions standards, and it’s made our air cleaner, protected public health, and helped us fight the climate crisis,” AG Healey said. “We are suing to stop this unprecedented and illegal assault on the rights of states to protect our residents and the environment.”

The lawsuit, filed today in the District of Columbia Circuit, challenges the EPA’s attempt to revoke portions of a waiver the agency granted to California in 2013 that permits the state to set its own limits on tailpipe pollution that are more stringent than the federal standards.

The federal Clean Air Act authorizes California to apply for a waiver from EPA to set its own standards, and other states are authorized to adopt those same standards for new cars and trucks sold within their state. EPA must approve the waiver, unless it makes certain findings. Over the past 50 years, EPA has granted 100 waivers for California standards.

Massachusetts and the other 11 states that follow California’s standards are home to 74 million people or approximately one-quarter of the country’s population. These states consume more than 28 billion gallons of gas annually, approximately one-fifth of the national total.

In September, AG Healey was part of a coalition of attorneys general who sued the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in federal district court in the District of Columbia over a separate environmentally-destructive regulation by the agency that declares California’s and other states’ emissions standards preempted by the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), based on arguments repeatedly rejected by multiple courts.

The lawsuit against NHTSA alleges that this preemption regulation exceeds the agency’s authority and ignores Congress’ careful and repeated preservation of California’s own strict standards—and Massachusetts’ and other states’ authority to adopt those standards. Today’s filing also includes a protective petition that asks the D.C. Circuit to review the preemption regulation if the district court decides that the pending case belongs in the D.C. Circuit instead.

The preemption regulation and the revocation of California’s waiver threaten Massachusetts’ ability to meet the requirements of the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which mandates that the Commonwealth reduce climate-warming emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Revoking California’s waiver and the preemption regulation are the first steps in the Trump Administration’s broader multi-pronged effort to roll back the federal clean car standards that EPA, NHTSA, and the California Air Resources Board established in 2010 with the agreement of automakers. Those standards limit greenhouse gas emissions from model year 2012-2025 cars and trucks. In August 2018, EPA and NHTSA proposed to freeze those standards for at least six years, resulting in Americans spending billions of dollars more on gas.

Joining AG Healey in filing today’s lawsuit are the attorneys general of California Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia; as well as the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

Special Assistant Attorney General Megan Herzog, Assistant Attorneys General Matthew Ireland and Carol Iancu, and Division Chief Christophe Courchesne, all of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, are handling this matter for Massachusetts, with assistance from the Bureau of Air and Waste at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

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Media Contact for AG Healey Sues Trump Administration Over Illegal Attack on States’ Authority to Set Clean Car Standards

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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