EDF Joins 23 States, Numerous Allies in Asking D.C. Circuit to Protect States’ Long-Established Clean Cars Authority

June 29, 2020
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – June 29, 2020) EDF joined an extensive coalition of 23 states including California, Michigan and Colorado, cities and regional clean air agencies, and environmental advocates to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to protect states’ long-standing authority to reduce dangerous pollution from cars.

The filing of the coalition’s court brief capped two weeks of examples of America’s momentum toward cleaner cars, passenger vehicles and freight trucks.

“In the last week alone we saw groundbreaking announcements from states and private companies that will lead to cleaner, lower-polluting vehicles in America’s future,” said EDF lead attorney Peter Zalzal. “The Trump administration may be trying to steer us away from clean cars, but the country is charging ahead.”

The filing with the D.C. Circuit is part of one of the lawsuits stemming from the Trump administration’s attempt to rollback American’s popular and successful Clean Car Standards. The administration is trying to eliminate states’ authority to set protective clean car standards – authority that is part of the Clean Air Act and has been in use for more than half a century. California and 13 other states have committed to strong clean car standards; more than a third of U.S. new car sales are covered by those standards. EDF sued to stop the Trump administration from interfering with the states’ clear legal authority.

EDF and its allies joined a coalition of 23 states from all across the country to file the brief to protect state clean car authority with the D.C. Circuit.

“In their haste to dismantle California’s and other states’ clean car standards, the Trump administration exceeded the clear limits of their authority and reinterpreted the Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act beyond all recognition,” said Matt Littleton, counsel at Donahue Goldberg Weaver & Littleton, who represents EDF in the case. “We have urged the D.C. Circuit to join the other courts that have recognized states’ authority to limit dangerous emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants from cars and passenger trucks.”

In addition to EDF, those on the brief are: the states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin; the Commonwealths of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia; the District of Columbia; the cities of Los Angeles and New York; the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and Sacramento Air Quality Management District; and the Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Environment America, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Public Citizen and Sierra Club.

A coalition of power companies, the Advanced Energy Economy and the National Coalition for Advanced Transportation, a group that includes leading automobile manufacturers including Tesla and Rivian, also filed a brief in the D.C. Circuit defending states’ clean cars authority.

The filing followed a series of other steps in the last two weeks that will lead to a cleaner transportation sector: Nevada took a step toward becoming the 15th state to adopt stronger clean car standards; California adopted a landmark measure to increase the use of electric trucks and buses; Lyft announced a commitment to 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030; and Ford Motor Company announced its commitment to working with California on stronger climate pollution standards together with a goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. (Ford is also one of numerous major automakers that has announced a voluntary accord with California to reduce climate pollution from cars notwithstanding the Trump administration’s attack on clean car standards.)

“Safeguarding state authority is important to ensure the momentum toward cleaner cars and passenger trucks continues,” said Zalzal. “States must be allowed to continue to lead in adopting measures to reduce harmful pollution from these vehicles in order to protect the health of millions of people.”

(EDF is also a party to the lawsuit opposing the Trump administration’s rollback of the national Clean Car Standards, an action that will cause more than 18,000 premature deaths, add one and a half billion metric tons of climate pollution to our air, and cost Americans $244 billion more at the gas pump.)

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