May 1, 2018 3:15 PM, EDT

California Challenges EPA Over Auto Emissions Rollback

Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News

California isn’t rolling over as the Trump administration moves to toss Obama-era vehicle emission standards.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said May 1 he is filing a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s April 2 determination that the requirements for cars and light trucks are too stringent and must be revised. EPA is in the process of rewriting those standards that aimed to slash carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles.

“The evidence is irrefutable: Today’s clean car standards are achievable, science-based and a boon for hardworking American families, but EPA and Administrator Scott Pruitt refuse to do their job and enforce the standards,” Becerra said through a spokeswoman. “We’re not looking to pick a fight with the Trump administration, but when the stakes are this high for our families’ health and our economic prosperity, we have a responsibility to do what is necessary to defend them.”

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The conflict has been brewing since the Obama administration concluded an EPA review of the standards’ feasibility a week before President Donald Trump took office — and more than a year ahead of an April 2018 deadline. Automakers cried foul and asked Trump to revive the review; he acquiesced in March last year.

California is set to argue that EPA arbitrarily reversed course April 2 when it sided with automakers and said the standards should be scrapped, paving the way for the current rewrite. At the time, Pruitt dubbed the Obama administration’s decision “politically charged,” saying it ignored the reality of imposing the new rules on carmakers.

EPA’s conclusion triggered the formal process of dialing back the Obama-era rules, which aimed to slash carbon dioxide emissions from cars and light trucks by boosting fuel economy to a fleet average of more than 50 mpg by 2025.

The challenge marks California’s 10th lawsuit against EPA and its 32nd against the Trump administration.

Becerra cast the EPA action as one of a litany of Trump administration efforts to unravel environmental safeguards in favor of industry.

With assistance by Ryan Beene, and Andrew M. Harris