California and 22 other states are suing the Trump administration over auto-emissions rules

The battle has begun.

The battle has begun.
Carlos Barria/Reuters

  • California was joined by 22 states ,as well as Los Angeles and New York City, to block the Trump administration’s effort to undo California’s waiver to set its own emissions standards for cars.
  • California has had its waiver in place since the 1970 Clean Air Act.
  • Trump maintains that removing the waiver would lead to cheaper and safer cars.
  • But the auto industry has opposed the administration, arguing that it doesn’t want to deal with multiple national standards and has already undertaken new-vehicle development based in California’s rules.
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A group of 23 states on Friday sued to undo the Trump administration’s determination that federal law bars California from setting stiff tailpipe emission standards and zero emission vehicle mandates.

The states, led by California and joined by the District of Columbia, Los Angeles and New York City, are seeking a court order blocking a determination unveiled Thursday by the US Transportation Department and its agency the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to papers filed in the US District Court in Washington.

The department said federal law preempts state and local regulation of vehicle fuel economy, including California’s greenhouse gas vehicle emissions rules that are followed by about a dozen other states.

This showdown has created the potential for a constitutional battle over states’ rights versus the federal regulatory apparatus. The Supreme Court could ultimately have to rule on the matter.

Automakers have objected to diverging from California’s standard because they’ve already committed to developing vehicles based its rules. Four automakers – Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW – formed a pact earlier this year to follow California’s standards, seeking to achieve about 50 mpg on average by 2026.

(Reuters reporting by David Shepardson; editing by David Gregorio.