18 AGs Sue EPA for Proposal to Roll Back Vehicle Emissions Standards

AGs say EPA’s effort to weaken national clean car standards harms public health and the economy


May 1, 2018
Contact: Brittany Whited

Washington, D.C.— California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led a coalition of eighteen attorneys general today in filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for beginning the process of rolling back critical vehicle emissions standards that help to ensure clean air. The lawsuit seeks to set aside and hold unlawful EPA's effort to weaken national clean car standards. 

“The evidence is irrefutable: today’s clean car standards are achievable, science-based and a boon for hardworking American families. But the EPA and Administrator Scott Pruitt refuse to do their job and enforce these standards,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Enough is enough. We’re not looking to pick a fight with the Trump Administration, but when the stakes are this high for our families’ health and our economic prosperity, we have a responsibility to do what is necessary to defend them.” 

“Scott Pruitt is seeking to undo commitments made by automakers to continually improve mileage and lower emissions through 2025,” said David J. Hayes, Executive Director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center. “State attorneys general are again turning to the courts – this time to challenge the thin, poorly documented basis for allowing the auto industry to renege on its commitment to reduce carbon emissions and other harmful air pollution, and to save money for drivers at the pump.”

Joining Attorney General Becerra filing today’s lawsuit were the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Also joining the suit are California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., the California Air Resources Board, Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency and Department of Transportation, and Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection.

The petition for review was filed in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and is based on EPA's arbitrary and capricious action to begin weakening the fuel efficiency standards for model years 2022-2025 in violation of its responsibilities under the Clean Air Act. 


Last month, state attorneys general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, were joined by mayors nationwide in releasing a declaration vowing to challenge the EPA's latest rollback -- national clean car standards -- in order to protect the environment and their residents from unhealthy air. The declaration from more than 50 cities and over 25 states makes clear their opposition to the rollback of a federal rule that sets targets for an increasingly clean, efficient and high-performance vehicle fleet through model year 2025. 

“As state attorneys general, mayors and county executives, we – not Washington, D.C. – are primarily responsible for the transportation systems upon which our residents and our local and regional economies depend,” said the attorneys general and mayors in the declaration. “A clean, efficient and high-performance vehicle fleet is an essential component of these systems.”

Since January 2017, state attorneys general have taken nearly 100 actions to advance and defend progressive clean energy, climate and environmental laws and policies. View all actions on the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center’s online hub. All AG actions related to vehicle emissions can be viewed here.

ABOUT THE STATE ENERGY & ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT CENTER: The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center is a non-partisan Center at the NYU School of Law that is dedicated to helping state attorneys general fight against regulatory rollbacks and advance clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. It was launched in August 2017 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. For more information, visit http://www.law.nyu.edu/centers/state-impact.