Gas War: California Sues Over State-based Emission Standards

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
gas war california sues over state based emission standards

On Friday, California and 23 other states filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration over efforts to reverse state-driven emissions standards. Earlier this week, the president confirmed speculation that the federal government would be taking steps to revoke California’s fuel waiver — making the suit about as predictable as the setting sun.

We’ve told the story countless times. The Golden State wants to maintain stringent emission laws for automobiles, the Trump administration wants a fuel rollback, and automakers want a universal national standard. After months of nonproductive talks and all sides attempting to make their case to the public, it looks at though the Supreme Court will have the final say.

Considering there really was no way to keep both sides happy without throwing a colossal wrench into the automotive industry, this outcome always felt like an inevitability. During a Thursday press conference, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said that the abolishment of California’s rigid rules on tailpipe emissions “meets President Trump’s commitment to establish uniform fuel economy standards for vehicles across the United States, ensuring that no state has the authority to impose its policies on everybody else in our whole country.”

The DOT and EPA will jointly revoke the legal waiver, granted to California by the Obama administration under the authority of the 1970 Clean Air Act, that permits the state to set tighter state standards for greenhouse gas emissions stemming from automobiles.

According to The New York Times, California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has filed 60 lawsuits against the Trump administration. While their success rate has been mixed, they’ve shown the White House that California does not intend to allow the Executive Branch to dictate what it contends are state matters. However, the Trump administration has recently accused California of being a region gone awry. While much of that deals with the state’s growing homeliness problem and immigration rules, the president has also accused California’s of trying to hold the rest of the nation hostage via its environmental policies.

“The administration insists on attacking the authority of California and other states to tackle air pollution and protect public health,” said Becerra on Friday. “President Trump should have at least read the instruction manual he inherited when he assumed the presidency, in particular the chapter on respecting the rule of law.”

From The New York Times:

The lawsuit represents the starting gun in a sweeping legal battle over states’ rights and climate change that is likely be resolved only once it reaches the Supreme Court. The decision could ultimately have wide-ranging repercussions affecting states’ control over their own environmental laws, the volume of pollution produced by the United States, and the future of the nation’s auto industry.

All the state attorneys general signing on to the suit are Democrats, but they represent several states that Mr. Trump won in 2016. States joining the lawsuit include Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“This is the fight of a lifetime for us,” said Mary Nichols, California’s top climate change official. “I believe we will win.”

[Image: Nithid Memanee/Shutterstock]

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  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Sep 22, 2019

    I don't see how emotional arguments coming from either paranoia of a mythical CA takeover of federal law or CARB overreach should have any sway here. Go look at the evidence. Even though AQ has improved, the Los Angeles area still scores an F from the American Lung Association. CARB sucks, but crappy AQ sucks more for about 10 million people in LA alone. When it comes to public safety, I'd rather have a local government that acts this way as opposed to a Flint, MI style approach. Or New Jersey.

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Sep 24, 2019

      If CARB's strict standards don't work in the Los Angeles basin, where they were intended to work, what good are those standards? Maybe the LA basin is an unique combination of warm temperatures, proximity to the ocean, prevailing winds, and topography that has no human cause and no possible human solution.

  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Sep 22, 2019

    Let's not pretend this issue is about air quality. It's about CO2 emissions and California forcing the rest of the country to go along with its climate alarmist policies.

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