Second Circuit Court Rules Trump Administration Unlawfully Suppressed Information Related to Clean Cars Rollback
(New York, NY – April 1, 2020) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today ruled that the Trump administration had unlawfully concealed information relating to its rollback of America’s popular and successful Clean Car Standards – one day after that rollback was finalized without making the key information public.
“The Trump administration concealed facts in its desperate effort to push through the rollback of the Clean Car Standards – the most damaging rollback of climate protections in American history. This rollback will add more pollution to our air, making Americans sicker and causing thousands of premature deaths,” said EDF attorney Ben Levitan. “Today the court said unanimously that the administration has no legitimate reason to keep this vital information hidden, and that the American public must have access to it.”
“The Trump administration has been trying to hide the real impacts of its plan to gut clean car standards,” said Pete Huffman, a lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “With this decision, it will be even more clear to the public how dangerous and harmful to the economy this rollback really is.”
Since 2018, Trump’s EPA has refused to let the public see the latest version of its OMEGA model – a computer program long used to assess clean car protections. EPA made previous versions of the OMEGA model public as a matter of course, but it refused to release the latest version, which is likely to show the Clean Car Standards can be achieved by automakers at reasonable costs that are similar to or lower than those projected by EPA when it originally affirmed the appropriateness of the standards in 2017.
EDF and NRDC filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act after EPA refused to release the OMEGA model. In August of 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York declined to require EPA to disclose the model. EDF and NRDC appealed to the Second Circuit. Today a three-judge panel unanimously reversed the lower court and rejected EPA’s basis for concealing the model.
The popular and successful Clean Car Standards reduced pollution while saving Americans hard-earned money at the gas pump. Just yesterday, the Trump administration severely weakened the standards and replaced them with a weak substitute that will add more unhealthy pollution to our air. Analysis from EDF shows the rollback will cause an estimated 18,500 more premature deaths and 250,000 more asthma attacks.
The Trump administration’s harmful rollback will also force families to spend more for gas – $244 billion in fuel costs by 2040 – and will cost American jobs.
The administration pushed through its rollback while the rest of America was focused on stopping the spread of the new coronavirus and keeping people safe.
Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen have each already announced separate voluntary frameworks with California for continued nationwide pollution reductions from their vehicles. Volvo announced yesterday, hours after the rollback was finalized, that it is in discussions with California about a similar voluntary pollution reduction agreement.
A bipartisan coalition of 24 governors urged the Trump administration not to destroy the Clean Car Standards. Several state leaders and others, including EDF and NRDC, have said they are prepared to go to court to fight the rollback.
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