Coalition asks court to shield Obama’s clean car rules

Source: Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A coalition of seven advocacy groups asked a federal appeals court today to protect the Obama EPA’s clean car rules.

The petition for judicial review, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenges EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to revise “inappropriate” Obama-era greenhouse gas standards for light-duty vehicles (E&E News PM, April 2).

“The clean car standards are extremely successful,” said Ben Longstreth, senior attorney in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean energy program. “They are well-justified in terms of the technologies that are available to reduce emissions and make cars more efficient, which saves Americans dollars at the pump.”

Joining NRDC in the coalition: the Center for Biological Diversity, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Propping up gas-guzzlers is an assault on everyone who breathes. The EPA’s rollback flouts science, the law and its own mission, all to do the bidding of the nation’s worst polluters,” said Vera Pardee, CBD’s senior counsel, in a statement.

EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are now hammering out a detailed proposed rule for vehicles built from 2022 to 2025.

An EPA draft proposal obtained by E&E News outlines eight scenarios. In the “preferred” scenario, the agency would freeze fuel economy targets at 2020 levels through 2026 (E&E News PM, April 27).

That option would increase greenhouse gases in the transportation sector at a time when cars and trucks are eclipsing power plants as the nation’s top source of heat-trapping emissions.

It would also set up a protracted legal fight with California, which has a Clean Air Act waiver allowing its rules to be more stringent than federal regulations.

California, 16 other states and the District of Columbia previously sued the Trump administration over the rollback earlier this month (E&E News PM, May 1).

An EPA spokesman said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.