Los Angeles—City Attorney Mike Feuer brings Los Angeles into a nationwide coalition filing a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s disastrous final rule rolling back the national Clean Car Standards. The previous standards required appropriate and feasible improvements in fuel economy and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars and light trucks. Since their introduction in 2010, these standards have saved consumers money, reduced harmful emissions, and helped protect the health of our communities. The Trump Administration’s misguided Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles (SAFE) rule stops this progress in its tracks, hurting the economy and public health at a time when the country can least afford it. In the lawsuit, the coalition will argue that the final rule unlawfully violates the Clean Air Act, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
“We in Los Angeles must push back against the Trump Administration's anti-science, anti-consumer assault on our environment," said Feuer. "As we've seen during the pandemic, it's absolutely essential to pay close attention to our scientific experts. Here they're telling us that unless we put the brakes on the Administration's action, it will needlessly cause more pollution, require drivers to pump more costly gas, and harm our environment at the very moment we need to protect it. It's telling that even major car companies oppose the Administration on this. With the stakes this high, we must win this lawsuit, and I'm confident we will."
In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the California Air Resources Board, and car manufacturers agreed to a unified national program harmonizing greenhouse gas emission standards and fuel economy standards. Two years later, the agencies extended the national program to model years 2017-2025 vehicles. As part of the program, California and the federal agencies agreed to undertake a midterm evaluation to determine if the standards for model years 2022-2025 vehicles should be maintained or revised. In January 2017, the EPA completed the midterm evaluation and issued a final determination affirming that the existing standards were appropriate and would not be changed.
The following year, the Trump Administration took its first step toward dismantling the national Clean Car Standards by reversing EPA’s final determination with its own new mid-term evaluation that alleged the standards were no longer appropriate or feasible. The Trump Administration later made its rollback proposal official, despite the fact that the auto industry was currently on track to meet or exceed the Clean Car Standards.
On March 31, 2020, the Trump Administration announced its final rule rolling back the Clean Car Standards. The rule significantly loosens fuel economy standards, allowing automakers to make only minimal improvements to fuel economy—on the order of 1.5 percent annually instead of the previously anticipated annual increase of approximately 5 percent. The rule also guts the requirements to reduce vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions, allowing hundreds of millions of metric tons of avoidable carbon emissions into our atmosphere over the next decades.
In the lawsuit, the coalition will argue that the Trump Administration's rollback of the national Clean Cars Standards is unlawful because, among other things:
The EPA and NHTSA’s rollbacks violate the statutory text and congressional mandates they are bound by; and
The EPA and NHTSA improperly and unlawfully relied on an analysis riddled with errors, omissions, and unfounded assumptions in an attempt to justify their desired result.
Through City Attorney Feuer, Los Angeles joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. The California Air Resources Board, the cities of New York, San Francisco, and Denver, and the counties of San Francisco and Denver also joined the coalition in filing the lawsuit.
More information on the coalition's efforts to defend our nation’s Clean Car Standards and California’s greenhouse gas emission and zero emission vehicle standards can be found at oag.ca.gov/cleancars.