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Press Release  AG Healey Sues Trump Administration Over Illegal Attempt to Revoke States’ Authority to Set Strong Vehicle Emissions Standards

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  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact   for AG Healey Sues Trump Administration Over Illegal Attempt to Revoke States’ Authority to Set Strong Vehicle Emissions Standards

Chloe Gotsis

BOSTON Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of 24 attorneys general and cities in suing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over its illegal and environmentally-destructive new regulation seeking to preempt California’s stringent greenhouse gas emissions standards for new cars and trucks.

Massachusetts is one of 12 states that adopted these emissions standards as a key part of the state’s efforts to reduce pollution, protect public health, and fight climate change.

“After three years of shredding federal environmental rules, the Trump Administration is now attacking state policies that we need to protect public health and address the climate crisis,” said AG Healey. “This is an illegal assault on states’ rights and clean air that will damage the environment and put the health of our children, seniors, and all communities at risk. We are suing to challenge this destructive proposal.”

In new rules announced today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is revoking California’s long-held Clean Air Act authority to set its own standards for carbon emissions from vehicles, and NHTSA is declaring California and other states’ tailpipe pollution standards preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), based on arguments repeatedly rejected by multiple courts. The lawsuit filed today in federal district court in the District of Columbia alleges that NHTSA’s preemption regulation exceeds its authority and ignores Congress’ careful and repeated preservation of California’s own strict standards—and Massachusetts’ and other states’ authority to adopt those standards.

The Clean Air Act authorizes California to apply for a waiver from EPA to set its own limits on tailpipe pollution that are more stringent than the federal 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. AG Healey has joined attorneys general from California and other states that follow California’s standards in vowing to fight EPA’s revocation of California’s waiver.  

Massachusetts and the other 11 states that follow California’s standards, in whole or in part, 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.

The rules announced today also 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.

Today’s announcement by the Trump Administration is the first step in its 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.

Today’s lawsuit asks the court to strike down NHTSA’s preemption regulation as unlawful on the basis that the agency:

  • Lacks the authority to decree what the EPCA does or does not preempt;
  • Pretends that a conflict exists between two sets of rules, California’s emissions standards and federal standards, which have co-existed for years;
  • Willfully misreads EPCA as preempting state emission standards it explicitly directed NHTSA to account for, and as implicitly repealing portions of the Clean Air Act;
  • Ignores the authority and intent of Congress, which has repeatedly reaffirmed and embraced California’s authority over the last four decades;
  • Disregards the role these standards play in helping California and other states meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards; and,
  • Ignores the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to assess or analyze the damage that the agency’s preemption regulation will inflict on the environment and public health.

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 and New York.



Media Contact   for AG Healey Sues Trump Administration Over Illegal Attempt to Revoke States’ Authority to Set Strong Vehicle Emissions Standards

  • Office of the Attorney General 

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