California and 22 other US states have now filed lawsuits against the Trump administration, who is trying to deny them the right to set their own – higher – emissions standards. California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has also just signed two laws to tighten emission standards for trucks and other vehicles.
In the latest counter move, New York, Los Angeles and the District of Columbia have joined the 20 other states to sue the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its most recent legislation to force states to lower emissions standards. After Trump announced via Twitter that he would revoke California’s legal right to make its own emissions targets, the US governmental Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration accordingly assembled the “One National Program Rule.” This rule makes good Trump’s promise of revoking California’s Clean Air Act, as well as scaling back emissions targets set by his predecessor, Barack Obama. This is now being challenged by the 23 states in court.
California’s ability to determine its own emissions standards began as early as 1970, against the backdrop of high smog levels in Los Angeles. If necessary, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom wants to go to the Supreme Court to defend Californian standards. California state attorney general Xavier Becerra is arguing that the Trump administration is overstepping its authority in revoking California’s rights to determine its own emissions standards. Becerra has pointed to two federal court decisions from 2007 as precedent. In both of these cases, judges ruled that state limits on car and light truck emissions do not contravene federal law.
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“The Oval Office is really not a place for on-the-job training. President Trump should have at least read the instruction manual he inherited when he assumed the presidency, in particular, the chapter on respecting the rule of law,” Becerra said in a statement.
Battle lines are set as EPA spokeswoman Corry Schiermeyer told the Washington Post that the “EPA has granted those waivers over many years. But California cannot misuse that authority to set national fuel economy standards and attempt to control national greenhouse gas emissions standards,” On the state’s chances in their lawsuit she surmised, “We are confident we are correctly applying the law and will prevail in the courts.”
Meanwhile, pushing forward with the move off fossil fuels, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has also signed two laws to tighten emission standards for trucks and other high-emission vehicles. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will also be instructed to urge automakers to produce cleaner vehicles and find ways to boost sales of these vehicles in the new and used car markets. To this end, CARB will develop criteria for new subsidy programs.
“In the face of the White House’s inaction on climate change, California is stepping up and leading the way,” said Governor Newsom. “Our state is proof that you can reach some of the strongest climate goals in the world while also achieving record economic growth. How we meet this moment will define our state – and country – for decades to come, just as the emergence of the internet defined our economy over the past few decades. We have to get ahead of this and align our state investments, our purchasing power and our transportation and housing policies to be ready to meet this moment head-on.”
California has led the way for a transport transition off fossil fuels with decisive actions such as the U.S. Climate Alliance and Under2 Coalition. Californian leaders have been using the state’s economic clout (the US state is the world’s fifth-largest economy), to drive the kind of policies that enable innovation in transport industries, as well as allowing for cleaner air and attempting to mitigate climate change.