(Washington, D.C. – December 3, 2018) Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council are suing the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency over the agency’s failure to release crucial materials relevant to its attack on America’s Clean Car Standards.
The groups filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York today seeking access to an internal EPA analysis tool that public records indicate would show the current standards can be achieved by automakers at a substantially lower cost than alleged in the current proposal.
“EPA’s ongoing and unlawful refusal to release these materials is just the latest example of this administration’s secrecy and lack of accountability to the American people,” said EDF attorney Ben Levitan. “The Clean Car Standards protect us from dangerous pollution while saving our hard-earned money at the gas pump. The public has a right to know about the flawed justifications the Trump administration is using in its attempts to weaken our clean car safeguards.”
“Impartial analysis shows that automakers can meet the clean car standards at a reasonable cost, saving drivers money at the pump,” said Pete Huffman, a lawyer at NRDC. “The obvious reason EPA would refuse to release the records of its analysis is that they would further undermine the already flimsy arguments for a rollback.”
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.
The Trump administration is trying to drastically weaken the standards. It released a formal proposal to roll them back this summer. That proposal is based on unfounded scientific and economic data, and some important materials have not been made available to the public.
EPA has long used a computer model to assess clean car protections, known as the OMEGA model. The agency updated and used this model recently – during the time it was working to undermine the Clean Car Standards. EPA never released the full results or underlying data of that computer model, and the formal proposal completely ignores its existence.
EDF and NRDC submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain that computer model and related materials. The groups repeatedly asked the agency to release the information over many months but got no response. So today, they asked the court to intervene and pry the information from EPA.
You can read more about the extensive legal and technical flaws of the proposed Clean Car Standards rollback in these comments.
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