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Press Release

Press Release  AG Healey Sues Trump Administration Over Illegal Rollback of Clean Car Standards

Rollback Will Cost Americans Tens of Billions More on Gas, Increase Carbon Pollution, and Worsen Air Quality, Putting Public Health at Risk During COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond
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  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact   for AG Healey Sues Trump Administration Over Illegal Rollback of Clean Car Standards

Chloe Gotsis

BOSTON Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of 30 states, cities, and counties in suing the Trump Administration over its illegal, environmentally destructive, and costly final rule rolling back federal limits on tailpipe pollution from cars and trucks.

Today’s petition, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) final rule for violating the Clean Air Act, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. According to the petition, the NHTSA and EPA improperly and unlawfully relied on analysis riddled with fundamental errors, omissions, and unfounded assumptions in an attempt to justify and rush through the rollback.

“In the midst of an unprecedented pandemic when protecting public health should be our country’s focus, the Trump Administration is taking steps to degrade air quality, exacerbate serious public health risks, and worsen the climate crisis,” AG Healey said. “We are suing to fight against the lobbyists who wrote this rule for the fossil fuel industry, and to stand up for federal law, science, our residents, our economy, and the right to breathe clean air.”

Globally, the transportation sector is the fastest growing source of dangerous greenhouse gas pollution. Cars and light duty trucks account for nearly 60 percent of the country’s transportation sector emissions and are the main drivers of U.S. dependence on oil, including foreign imports. In Massachusetts, the transportation sector is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2010, EPA, NHTSA, and the California Air Resources Board established a unified national program to limit greenhouse gas emissions from model year 2012–2016 vehicles. Two years later, the agencies extended the national program to model year 2017-2025 vehicles. The harmonized national program allows automakers to design and manufacture vehicles that will comply with tailpipe standards in all states as well as federal standards.

In August 2018, the Trump Administration announced its proposal to dismantle the national program and renege on the agreement with states and automakers. In October 2018, AG Healey joined 20 other attorneys general and five cities in demanding the Trump Administration withdraw its illegal proposal, arguing that it disregarded warnings from the scientific community that weakening tailpipe standards will aggressively accelerate global warming and lead to temperature increases, ocean warming, sea level rise, increased hospitalizations, and more extreme weather events.

The Trump Administration finalized its rollback of the car standards on April 30, 2020.  The final rule requires a mere 1.5 percent annual improvement in fuel efficiency—which is significantly below the 5 percent annual improvement previously required under the national program. As a result, the rule will cost drivers tens of billions of dollars in additional fuel and increase greenhouse gas emissions by nearly a billion tons over the life of vehicles built during the term of the rule. 

AG Healey is part of a coalition of 24 attorneys general and two cities that sued both the EPA and NHTSA late last year over their attempts to preempt California’s and other states’ emissions standards. Massachusetts is one of 12 states that have adopted California’s stricter standards for greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks as a key part of the state’s efforts to reduce pollution, protect public health, and fight the destructive effects of climate change.

Earlier this month, AG Healey’s Office released a brief on the environmental factors, including elevated exposure to air pollution, that compound the COVID-19 pandemic’s disparate impact on communities of color in Massachusetts and the steps the state should take to address the longstanding impact of environmental injustice. Those steps include fighting the Administration’s rollbacks of federal environmental protections that, like this final rule, will worsen air quality in Massachusetts and across the country, leading to hundreds of premature deaths from air pollution during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

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; the Cities of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Denver; and the Counties of San Francisco and Denver. 

Assistant Attorneys General Matthew Ireland and Carol Iancu, Special Assistant Attorneys General Megan Herzog and David Frankel, 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.


Media Contact   for AG Healey Sues Trump Administration Over Illegal Rollback of Clean Car 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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