A coalition of 18 U.S states is suing the current administration over “arbitrary and capricious” moves to weaken air quality regulations.

California freeway.

California freeway.
Image via Wikimedia.

Eighteen states will take representatives of the Trump administration to court. In a move championed by the golden state of California, they will fight against the administration’s revisions of Obama-era car greenhouse gas emission rules — one of his most significant measures against climate change.

“Arbitrary and capricious”

New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, the District of Columbia, and California are suing the EPA and its Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Together, the states hold roughly 43% of the U.S.’s cars and are understandably angry at the EPA’s moves to weaken current car emission regulation. They aim to “set aside and hold unlawful” the newer (and weaker, compared to those adopted in 2012) fuel economy standards, which are slated to take effect in 2022.

According to The New York Times, the Trump administration said the standards were too stringent and began legal procedures to revise them. The EPA hasn’t offered any new standards, instead choosing to draft regulation that weakens existing ones post-2020. In other words, we’re not talking about a different take or a paradigm shift here — just a simple, old-fashioned cut.

The NYT explains that after executives from General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler visited the White House to request more lenient emissions rules, Trump’s administration began to try and roll back the standards. The Agency claims that the standards are “based on outdated information” and that new data suggests “the current standards may be too stringent.” For context, these standards aimed to raise efficiency requirements to about 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

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The states, however, contend that the EPA acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in changing these rules, in direct opposition to their citizens’ best interests. Furthermore, they hold that the EPA under Pruitt violated the Clean Air Act and didn’t follow its own regulations.

The lawsuit comes just days after learning that the Department of Transportation is planning to propose freezing fuel economy standards at model year 2020 levels, Politico adds.

“The federal standard the states are suing to protect is estimated to reduce carbon pollution equivalent to 134 coal power plants burning for a year, and save drivers $1,650 per vehicle,” the states said.

Which, you have to admit, sounds pretty sweet. There’s something for everybody, no matter if you care about the environment or your bottom line. No matter how this plays out, we’re likely to look at a protracted legal battle as both sides seem intent to see it through to the bitter end.

“My message to the EPA and Administrator Pruitt is simple: Do your job. Regulate carbon pollution from vehicles,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a press conference on Tuesday. “We are not looking to pick a fight with the Trump administration, but we are ready for one.”

“This is about health, it’s about life and death,” adds California Gov. Jerry Brown. “I’m going to fight it with everything I can.”

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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