Green coalition files lawsuit to rebuff toxic federal policy

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Environment America and partners petition to keep the EPA from rescinding states’ rights to determine their greenhouse gas emissions standards

Washington — Environment America and other advocacy groups filed a lawsuit today against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The suit challenges the agency’s decision to take away California’s authority to impose stronger vehicular greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution regulations than the federal government.

“Getting rid of clean car standards when air pollution is on the rise is dumb, and in our view, unlawful,” said Doug Phelps, chairman of Environment America. “Carmakers have the technology to improve emissions, and Americans want healthier air.”

The EPA’s action also prohibits other states from adopting California’s standards. California and 13 other states plus the District of Columbia have implemented stringent GHG emissions standards that have helped to curb pollution. In the majority of those states, affiliates of Environment America and its sister organization U.S. PIRG actively campaigned for the adoption of strong standards to protect public health and the environment.

The petitioners will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to invalidate the EPA’s action.

“We’re suing because EPA’s withdrawal of California’s waiver violates the law,” said Mike Landis, Environment America’s attorney in the litigation. “EPA doesn’t have the authority to withdraw a waiver, and, even if it did, none of the justifications put forth stand up to scrutiny.”

In recent years, as air pollution has worsened and the effects of climate change have become more severe and apparent, transportation has become the number one source of GHG pollution in the United States.

“The long-term solution is 21st-century infrastructure to support electric vehicles, improved public transit, and micromobility — better bike, scooter and pedestrian access. During the transition, we need to minimize the damage done by gas-powered vehicles,” said Andrea McGimsey, Environment America’s senior director of global warming solutions. “Today’s lawsuit asserts the right of Americans to adopt the best technologies available to protect themselves from environmental harm.” 

Over the past three years, the Trump administration has proposed or implemented rollbacks to a wide variety of regulations that protect health and the environment, notably light bulb efficiency standards, the Clean Water Rule and methane standards. 

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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.