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Ford joins coalition suing over Clean Car Standards

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford on Wednesday joined a multistate coalition of states, cities and counties to file a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s rule rolling back the national Clean Car Standards.

The previous standards required appropriate and feasible improvements in fuel economy and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars and light trucks. The Trump administration’s Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles rule stops this progress in its tracks, the coalition said, hurting the economy and public health at a time when the country can least afford it.

In the lawsuit, the coalition will argue that the final rule unlawfully violates the Clean Air Act, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“Since their introduction in 2010, the Clean Car Standards have saved consumers money, reduced harmful emissions and helped protect the health of our communities,” Ford said. “The Trump administration’s dangerous and misguided decision to roll back these federal standards threatens to reverse the progress we’ve made in the fight against climate change. My office won’t stand for it.”

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the California Air Resources Board and car manufacturers established a unified national program harmonizing greenhouse gas emission standards and fuel efficiency standards.

As part of the program, California and the federal agencies agreed to undertake a midterm evaluation to determine if the greenhouse gas emission standards for model years 2022-2025 vehicles should be maintained or revised. In January 2017, the EPA completed the midterm evaluation and issued a final determination affirming that the existing standards were appropriate and would not be changed.

The following year, the Trump administration took its first step toward dismantling the national Clean Car Standards by reversing the final determination with a new midterm evaluation that alleged the standards were no longer appropriate or feasible. The administration later made its rollback proposal official, despite the fact that the auto industry was currently on track to meet or exceed the Clean Car Standards.

On March 31, 2020, the Trump administration announced its final rule rolling back the Clean Car Standards. The rule takes aim at the corporate average fuel efficiency standards, requiring automakers to make only minimal improvements to fuel economy on the order of 1.5 percent annually instead of the previously anticipated annual increase of approximately 5 percent. The rule also guts the requirements to reduce vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions, allowing hundreds of millions of metric tons of avoidable carbon emissions into our atmosphere over the next decades.

In the lawsuit, the coalition will argue that the rollback of the national Clean Cars Standards is unlawful because, among other things, the EPA and NHTSA’s rollbacks violate the statutory text and congressional mandates they are bound by and the EPA and NHTSA improperly and unlawfully relied on an analysis riddled with errors, omissions and unfounded assumptions in an attempt to justify their desired result.

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