Environment America sues federal government over prohibiting states from setting stronger tailpipe emission standards

Media Releases

Media Contacts
Josh Chetwynd

Mike Landis

Morgan Hayward

Former Director, Destination: Zero Carbon, Environment America

Advocacy group, eight others, file lawsuit

Environment America

WASHINGTON — Environment America, along with eight other public interest organizations, filed a lawsuit today in a Washington, D.C., federal district court opposing the Trump administration’s plan to block states from setting their own tough tailpipe emissions standards.

The complaint challenges a final rule issued by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which asserts that all state programs that limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or establish zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates are preempted by the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).

The plaintiffs are asking the court to invalidate this rule because NHTSA doesn’t have the statutory authority to issue this type of regulation. In addition, the administration’s actions misinterpret EPCA and fail to follow procedures required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“Not only does NHTSA lack the legal authority to issue this rule, but it also completely misreads the statute,” said Mike Landis, Environment America’s attorney in the case. “Congress has consistently recognized the validity of state emissions standards, and we are confident that the court will act as a necessary check on the administration and overturn this unlawful action.”

Tailpipe emissions cause both ongoing climate threats and daily health dangers. Clean car standards have helped cut vehicle pollution by about 90 percent since 1998, but communities across the United States still suffer from an increasing annual number of bad-air days.

”The federal government’s attack on state clean car standards poses a serious risk to the health and well-being of all Americans,” said Morgan Folger, Environment America’s Clean Cars campaign director. “Environment America members from every corner of the country have spoken out against this rollback. We are standing up for our right to breathe clean air and protect our communities from the increasingly dire impacts of climate change.“

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The other plaintiffs are the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists.



Environment America is a national network of 29 state environmental groups. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment America is part of The Public Interest Network, which runs organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done.