States Sue Trump Administration Over Auto Emissions Standards

By: - May 2, 2018 12:00 am

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Gov. Jerry Brown, both Democrats, discuss a lawsuit filed against the federal government earlier this year. California is now leading its 32nd lawsuit against the Trump administration.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., sued the Trump administration to prevent it from weakening Obama-era auto emissions standards. Last month, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said he wanted to revise standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-25.  

“California is not looking to pick a fight with the Trump administration, but we are ready for one,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit, which his state is leading.

Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, said the state is prepared to sue “at every step along this process” to protect the nationwide emissions standards and California’s authority to set its own standards under the Clean Air Act.

The lawsuit doesn’t come as a surprise. Democrat-led states have been aggressively suing the federal government since President Donald Trump took office, and environmental policy experts have long predicted that any federal move to change the emissions standards would set off a major legal battle. 

Becerra said that California has about 32 lawsuits now pending against the Trump administration, and has sued over environmental issues some 16 times. “Of our 16 or 17 lawsuits on environmental issues, we have 10 or 11 victories to date,” he said. “We have not lost one case against the Trump administration.”

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Sophie Quinton

Sophie Quinton writes about fiscal and economic policy for Stateline. Previously, she wrote for National Journal.