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Groups to Federal Court: Force Trump’s EPA to Uphold Popular Consumer Clean Car Standards

May 15, 2018

Groups to Federal Court: Force Trump’s EPA to Uphold Popular Consumer Clean Car Standards

Public Citizen Joins Six Groups to Petition to Preserve EPA Rules That Save Lives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit should review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to roll back federal clean car standards, according to a petition filed today by Public Citizen, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Federal clean car standards have proven to be an effective program to fight climate change and save consumers billions at the gas pump.

The petition filed today initiates a court challenge to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s April decision that America’s clean car standards are “not appropriate” and should be rolled back. The Trump administration plans to roll back the standards, even though automakers are meeting the standards faster and more affordably than originally predicted.

“The Trump administration’s scheme to roll back clean car standards will be a disastrous wreck for consumers and the planet. According to the EPA’s own analysis, automakers are meeting the clean car standards faster and more affordably than predicted. The Trump administration’s proposed reversal would loot up to $100 billion from consumers at the gas pump. The administration’s plans are contrary to law and to common sense,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

In 2011, automakers, labor groups and environmentalists stood in the Rose Garden beside President Barack Obama as he announced the clean car standards. The rules already have delivered benefits for consumers and would cut six billion metric tons of tailpipe climate pollution – the equivalent of a year’s worth of pollution from 150 power plants – from the atmosphere by 2025.

Those gains now are threatened because despite having helped craft the clean car standards, automakers have pushed to roll them back since President Donald Trump’s election.

The clean car regulations finalized in 2012 provided for a “midterm review” of the appropriateness of standards established for model years 2022-25. In January 2017, the EPA issued a final determination that the standards were appropriate and would remain unchanged. The EPA’s action last month reversed that final determination. The petition filed today asks the court of appeals to review and set aside that reversal, which would reinstate the previous final determination that the standards are appropriate.

“Under the law, the EPA had the burden of providing a rational explanation, supported by evidence in the administrative record, for its 180-degree change of position on the appropriateness of the standards,” said Public Citizen attorney Scott Nelson. “Pruitt’s vague assertions that there is ‘uncertainty’ about whether the standards can be met, based almost entirely on arguments made by the auto manufacturers that the EPA previously rejected, fall far short of carrying that burden.”