California And Nearly Two Dozen States Sue Trump Administration As Emissions Fight Escalates

Photo: AP Images

For decades, California’s been able to set its own emissions standards, but the Trump Administration moved this week to end that ability as it seeks to create one national standard for (very debatably) cheaper, safer cars. But California’s not going down without a fight, and nearly two dozen other states are getting in on the action.

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Today, California, as well as 22 other states and the District of Columbia, have filed lawsuit against the Trump Administration over the latter’s reversal of state-driven emissions standards.

The states joining California include Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, reports the New York Times. It points out all the state attorneys general on the suit are Democrats, but represent several states that went red in the 2016 election, which is worth noting because this is a deeply political fight.

From the story:

The lawsuit represents the starting gun in a sweeping legal battle over states’ rights and climate change that is likely be resolved only once it reaches the Supreme Court. The decision could ultimately have wide-ranging repercussions affecting states’ control over their own environmental laws, the volume of pollution produced by the United States, and the future of the nation’s auto industry.

The abolishment of California’s stringent rule on tailpipe climate pollution — which 13 other states also follow — “meets President Trump’s commitment to establish uniform fuel economy standards for vehicles across the United States, ensuring that no state has the authority to impose its policies on everybody else in our whole country,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

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The new policy put forth by the Department of Transportation aims to strip California of its right to set its own emissions standards for greenhouse gases, a right the state has had for over 50 years. Additionally, the department is also trying to roll back fuel economy standards that were put in place during the Obama administration.

Currently, the national fuel economy standard requires automakers to reach an average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025. It was designed to follow California’s standard, according to the Times. But the feds say the right to set mileage standards lies with the Transportation Department only.

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“If this prevails,” Mary Nichols, the chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board told the outlet, “millions of people in California will breathe dirty air. There will be more pollution, more asthma more hospitalizations, more premature deaths.”

Correction 6:15 p.m. EST: A previous version of this post misstated the number of states. We’ve updated the story. 

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Kristen Lee

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.