EDF, NRDC Ask Court to Require Disclosure of EPA’s Hidden Analysis on the Clean Cars Rollback

March 7, 2019
Sharyn Stein, EDF, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – March 7, 2019) Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council are urging a court to make the Environmental Protection Agency release crucial materials that could expose the faulty logic behind the Trump administration’s attack on America’s Clean Car Standards.

The groups filed a response with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York today saying the administration had failed to deliver these important materials as the law requires and as EPA has always done in the past.

The case involves the OMEGA model – a long used computer model to assess clean car protections. The Trump administration is trying to drastically weaken America’s Clean Car Standards, and public records indicate the latest version of the OMEGA model would show the current Clean Car Standards can be achieved by automakers at a substantially lower cost than alleged by the administration. But the administration has refused to release the model and their rollback proposal completely disregards its existence.

EDF and NRDC submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain that computer model and related materials. They got no response to repeated requests, and eventually asked the court to intervene and pry the information from EPA.

This week, EPA filed a letter with the court saying it had released some information but was “withholding the full version of the OMEGA model.” The letter still asked the court not to decide whether EPA has violated the law or whether the agency must produce the withheld model.

Today, EDF and NRDC filed a response saying:

“OMEGA and the information it provides are urgently needed to enable meaningful public accountability of EPA and its pending action to weaken vehicle emission standards … EPA has not provided the full determination FOIA requires and remains in violation of the law.”

The Clean Car Standards have been in effect since 2012. They reduce climate pollution, improve fuel efficiency and save American families money at the pump.

“This is information that is vitally important for protecting Americans from dangerous pollution from cars. The public has a right to this information, but the Trump administration continues to stonewall. We will work vigorously to ensure EPA makes it available,” said EDF senior attorney Martha Roberts.

“The public has a right to know what the impact will be of the Trump administration’s proposal to gut tailpipe emission standards, but EPA continues to stonewall,” said Pete Huffman, a lawyer for NRDC. “What it provided is gibberish. EPA says releasing the full computer model, as it has in the past, would ‘harm’ its decision-making. But the administration cannot withhold information just because it would undermine its efforts to roll back these important safeguards.”

EDF and NRDC will file a more detailed motion with the court early next week.

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