D.C. Circuit to Review “Fact-Free” Underpinning of Attempt to Weaken Clean Cars Standards

November 21, 2018
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – November 21, 2018) A legal challenge to actions underpinning the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back America’s health-protective Clean Car Standards will move forward in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The court announced today that it will review a challenge to the administration’s Final Determination – a critical basis for the rollback attempt – on the merits.

“We’re thankful that the D.C. Circuit has rejected the Trump EPA’s attempt to evade review of its fact-free justification for attacking the Clean Car Standards,” said Martha Roberts, Senior Attorney for Environmental Defense Fund, which is a party to the case. “The Clean Car Standards are one of our nation’s biggest environmental success stories, and the Trump EPA’s justification for undermining them – the Final Determination – lacks any basis in sound economic, science or health data. The Trump EPA’s deeply flawed reasoning for the proposed rollback deserves thorough court review.”

The Final Determination is an analysis the administration is using to justify drastically weakening the Clean Car Standards – popular protections that reduce climate pollution, improve fuel efficiency, and save Americans money at the gas pump.

Then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued the Final Determination in April. It was based almost entirely on auto industry statements, without any independent analysis. It directly quotes the auto industry 14 times and cites them 63 times – while never once citing any EPA analyses. It also never once mentions the words “health,” “air pollution,” or “climate.”

A coalition of 18 states challenged the Final Determination in court. EDF, the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Public Citizen Inc., Sierra Club, and Union for Concerned Scientists also filed briefs in the case, as did an industry coalition including major power companies and two auto manufacturers.

The Trump administration asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit without merits consideration. Today the court refused, and said the case would go forward. No dates have been set for briefings or argument.

You can read more about the extensive legal and technical flaws of the administration’s proposed Clean Car Standards rollback in EDF’s comments, and in comments from a coalition of NGO’s including EDF. You can read more about the Clean Car Standards, including legal briefs, on EDF’s website.

# # #

Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.