EDF Urges EPA, Court to Let the American People See Vital Information about Trump Administration’s Planned Clean Cars Rollback

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

(Washington, D.C. – August 7, 2019) EDF is taking action on two fronts to help make sure the public has access to important information about the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back America’s Clean Car Standards.

EDF submitted a request to EPA today to release information related to previously undisclosed meetings between agency officials and industry groups that want to weaken the standards. EDF also joined NRDC to file a letter with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York urging the court to promptly decide a case regarding records about a technical analysis that may weaken arguments for a rollback – an analysis that EPA has tried to bury.

“The Trump administration’s secrecy around efforts to roll back the Clean Car Standards robs Americans of vital public health and safety information,” said EDF attorney Alice Henderson. “EPA has a responsibility to protect the public from dangerous climate and air pollution, and Americans have a right to know what their government is doing to fulfill that responsibility.”

America’s Clean Car Standards have been in effect since 2012. They reduce climate pollution, improve fuel efficiency, and save American families money at the gas pump. The standards have overwhelming support, and four major auto companies and the state of California just reached an agreement to live up to their principles regardless of federal action. In spite of that, the Trump administration is trying to drastically weaken the Clean Car Standards.

A recent report published by Senators Tom Carper and Sheldon Whitehouse detailed numerous potential ethical and legal lapses by former EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum that relate to efforts to roll back the Clean Car Standards. The report lists seven previously undisclosed meetings between Wehrum and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers during the time that EPA was preparing the roll back. Wehrum had represented the Alliance and other industry groups just before his stint at EPA.

EDF’s request to EPA today calls on the agency to immediately disclose the details of those improperly concealed meetings and other relevant records. The omission of these records from the rulemaking docket for the proposed rollback of the Clean Car Standards violates the Clean Air Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, and deprives the public of crucial information related to its government’s actions in weakening the popular standards.

EPA also has refused to let the public see the latest OMEGA model – a long used computer model to assess clean car protections. The hidden model could expose the faulty analysis behind the Trump administration’s attack on the Clean Car Standards. EDF and NRDC filed a lawsuit to release the information after EPA failed to release it under the Freedom of Information Act.

In a court filing yesterday, the groups asked the court to act quickly because EPA has submitted its final action on the rollback to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB):

“[T]he public should have access to relevant factual information before EPA finalizes emission standards that have widespread public health impacts. OMB review strongly indicates that EPA action is imminent.”

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