The Trump administration revoked California’s right to set its own emissions standards for automobiles, and just two days later the state has responded.
California, along with 22 other states and several major cities filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is the division of the Department of Transportation that issued the rule revoking California’s authority.
The move “exceeds NHTSA’s authority, contravenes Congressional intent, and is arbitrary and capricious, and because NHTSA has failed to conduct the analysis required under the National Environmental Policy Act,” states the complaint which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The NEPA is considered a form of “national charter” for regulating the protection of the environment. It was signed into law in 1970.
“Two courts have already upheld California’s emissions standards, rejecting the argument the Trump Administration resurrects to justify its misguided Preemption Rule,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement on Friday. “Yet, the Administration insists on attacking the authority of California and other states to tackle air pollution and protect public health.”
Becerra and his 23 co-plaintiffs are demanding that the Trump administration’s move be declared unlawful and repealed.
“Remarkably,” their complaint explained, “NHTSA has conducted no analysis at all of the environmental impacts of a regulation that purports to preempt air pollution laws in effect in states that represent more than a third of the nation’s automobile market.”
In a conversation with All Things Considered after the lawsuit was filed Friday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said that California’s fuel economy standards would effectively “end up applying to the entire country” — because automakers would be unlikely to make two separate versions of the same car to comply with differing state regulations.
“What we are talking about here is energy efficiency,” Wheeler said, “and that is something that we don’t believe the state of California or any other state should be setting for the entire country.”