Transportation

California and 22 other states sue Trump administration over auto emissions rules

Key Points
  • 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.
  • The department said federal law preempts state and local regulation of vehicle fuel economy.
Morning traffic makes its way along a freeway in Los Angeles, California, September 19, 2019.
Mike Blake | Reuters

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 U.S. Transportation Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to papers filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington.

"Mr. President, we'll see you in court," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

The states suing include New York, Michigan, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.

The U.S. Transportation Department did not immediately comment on the suit. It said on Thursday that 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.

The legal challenge does not address a parallel decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to revoke a 2013 waiver California received under the Clean Air Act to set emissions standards. That does not take effect until late November.

The lawsuit marks the latest salvo in a high-stakes battle between the Trump administration and state officials over the future of U.S. vehicles.

Becerra said the Transportation Department's determination was unlawful, and that the administration misread federal law and ignored the intent of Congress.

"The administration insists on attacking the authority of California and other states to tackle air pollution and protect public health," Becerra said.

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Key Points
  • President Donald Trump says his administration is pulling a waiver that allows California to set its own auto emissions standards. 
  • California has already promised to fight the Trump administration move.