EDF, Allies Argue D.C. Circuit Should Strike Down Flawed Trump EPA Decision that Triggered Weakening of Clean Car Standards

September 6, 2019
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – September 6, 2019) EDF will join a broad coalition of allies at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit this morning to challenge the Trump administration’s unlawful actions underpinning its proposed rollback of America’s Clean Car Standards.

EDF outside counsel Sean Donahue will present arguments to the court that the Revised Final Determination that prompted EPA’s proposed rollback is based on egregious violations of EPA’s own rules and bedrock legal principles. Donahue will argue on behalf of EDF and a coalition of health, environmental and consumer groups.

“After a rigorous four-year review process that included scores of peer reviewed studies and expert analyses, EPA formally reaffirmed that the Clean Car Standards are working well, that clean car technology is advancing rapidly and that automakers have multiple means of meeting these standards at lower costs than was anticipated,” said Donahue. “The Trump administration tried to wipe away the agency’s own formal and technical work without anything remotely like lawful process or a defensible rationale. We are asking the court to set aside this effort to erase EPA’s own carefully developed, rigorous technical findings.”

The Clean Car Standards are one of our nation’s biggest environmental success stories. They reduce climate pollution, spur fuel efficiency gains, and save families money at the gas pump.

In April 2018, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a Revised Final Determination withdrawing the agency’s prior finding that the standards are feasible and cost effective, and declared that the standards should be rolled back — a decision that committed the agency to weakening these protections. Pruitt’s determination 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 ignoring EPA’s own analyses clearly demonstrating that the Clean Car Standards are working as intended and at lower-than-expected cost. Pruitt’s Revised Final Determination also never once mentions the words “health,” “air pollution,” or “climate.”

EDF – along with the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Public Citizen, Inc., Sierra Club, and Union for Concerned Scientists – is asking the D.C. Circuit to review and set aside that Revised Final Determination. A coalition of 18 states and an industry coalition including major power companies and two auto manufacturers are also challenging the Revised Final Determination.

The Trump administration formally proposed to roll back the Clean Car Standards in August 2018, in spite of massive opposition and the pending litigation. The administration’s own analysis estimates that the rollback will cost 60,000 jobs (see Table VII-5 at pg. 43,265), and independent analysis by Blue Green Alliance concluded that job losses would be even higher. An updated analysis by M.J. Bradley & Associates shows that American families would spend an average of $200 more each year on gas if the administration rolls back the Clean Car Standards – and could spend as much as $500 more each year if gas prices rise. 17 automakers and a bipartisan coalition of 24 governors have called on the administration to withdraw this destructive proposal.

Sean Donahue will be available to talk to the media after oral argument tomorrow. Please contact EDF to reach him.

You can read more about the Clean Car Standards, including all legal briefs, on EDF’s website.

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