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California Leads States In Suing the EPA For Attacking Vehicle Emissions Standards

California, along with seventeen other states, announced a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency today over its recent rollback of Obama-era vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards. The states argue that the EPA “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in overturning the previous administration’s decision. The Verge reports: The standards in question were drawn up in 2009 and adopted in 2012. They laid out a path for automakers to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by reaching an average fleet fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2024. Since the program was charting a course that stretched out more than a decade into the future, it was written into the rules that the EPA would have to perform a “mid-term evaluation” before April 1st, 2018. This review would serve two purposes: assess whether automakers were on track, and then use that information to determine if the last section of the standards (which apply to model year 2022-2025 cars) were still feasible.

The EPA, under Barack Obama, kicked off this review process ahead of schedule in the summer of 2016 when it published an extensive 1,200-page technical assessment that analyzed whether the standards were working. In January 2017, the outgoing EPA wrapped this evaluation and determined that the bar was not set too high. In fact, it argued, automakers were overwhelmingly compliant. The Trump EPA’s decision in April did not set new standards — it simply argued that there were problems with the existing standards. In the meantime, the agency and the Department of Transportation are currently working together to craft and officially propose new standards. But the previous standards that the EPA said were inappropriate will technically remain in place until that happens.

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