Herring sues EPA over attacks on clean air, climate change efforts

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Attorney General Mark Herring has joined a coalition of attorneys general and local governments in filing a lawsuit opposing the EPA effort to block state-level action to reduce air pollution from cars and encourage the development of clean car technology and jobs.

The action, filed in the D.C. Circuit, is part of the coalition’s ongoing fight to block the Trump Administration’s attacks on clean air and state climate change efforts.

The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under President Trump have announced a plan to revoke California’s authority to establish vehicle pollution standards that meet its needs.

These standards, which have been adopted at least in part by thirteen other states and the District of Columbia, are vital to curbing pollution and addressing air quality issues and the climate crisis, especially in light of the Trump Administration’s efforts to weaken federal vehicle pollution standards.

In September 2019, Herring and his colleagues filed suit against the NHTSA alleging that its preemption regulation is unlawful and should be vacated. Previously, Herring and his colleagues sued Trump’s EPA for attempting to gut the federal Clean Car standards.

“The Trump Administration has not only rolled back federal climate change efforts but they are now threatening states’ rights to implement their own efforts to reduce carbon emissions and encourage clean car jobs and technology,” said Herring. “The threat of climate change is only going to get worse if we do not take bold action and it is crucial that states’ have the ability to enact their own regulations and reforms. We are sending a strong message to the Trump Administration that we will not back down when it comes to protecting our planet, our economies, and the health of Americans.”

Under the federal Clean Air Act, California may set its own vehicle emissions standards that are at least as protective as the federal government’s standards. California retains this authority in order to address the extraordinary and compelling air pollution issues affecting the state, and other states may also choose to adopt these standards.

California’s standards have proven remarkably effective, reducing air pollution by hundreds of thousands of tons annually, encouraging the development of pollution controls technologies, and contributing to stronger federal standards.

The filing also includes a protective petition that asks the D.C. Circuit to review a separate regulation by the NHTSA, which is designed to preempt California’s greenhouse gas and zero emission vehicle standards. On Sept. 20, 2019, Herring and his colleagues filed a lawsuit in the district court in Washington, D.C. alleging that NHTSA’s preemption regulation is unlawful and should be vacated.

The federal government has moved to dismiss that case on the grounds that it belongs in D.C. Circuit Court, and briefing is ongoing. While the coalition maintains that the district court has jurisdiction in this challenge, in the event the court disagrees, the protective portion of today’s petition preserves the coalition’s ability to challenge NHTSA’s preemption regulation.

Herring joined the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia; as well as the cities of Los Angeles and New York.


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