23 states sue Trump to keep California’s auto emission rules

Sacramento, September 21

California has sued to stop the Trump administration from revoking its authority to set greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, enlisting help from 22 other states in a battle that will shape a key component of the nation’s climate policy.

Federal law sets standards for how much pollution can come from cars and trucks. But since the 1970s, California has been permitted to set tougher rules because it has the most cars and struggles to meet air quality standards. On Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration withdrew California’s waiver.

The NHTSA action does not take effect for 60 days, but state leaders did not wait to file a lawsuit. Democratic Gov Gavin Newsom, who has clashed with President Donald Trump on several fronts, vowed the state “will hold the line in court to defend our children’s health, save consumers money at the pump and protect our environment”.

The Trump administration’s decision does not just affect California. Thirteen other states, plus the District of Columbia, have adopted California’s standards.

A spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declined to comment on the lawsuit. But on Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the rules “were making cars more expensive and impeding safety because consumers were being priced out of newer, safer vehicles”.

“We will not let political agendas in a single state be forced upon the other 49,” Chao said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said its authority to set nationwide fuel economy standards pre-empted state and local programmes.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra cited a 2007 US Supreme Court decision that rejected the NHTSA’s argument that greenhouse gas emission standards under the Clean Air Act interfered with its ability to set fuel economy standards. AP