Statement From Attorney General Josh Shapiro, National Coalition Announcing Intent To Sue Over EPA Rollback Of Clean Car Rule

August 2, 2018 | Topic: Rights

Abandoning New Federal Standards Will Cost Americans Between $193 Billion and $236 Billion More on Gas and Add Carbon Emissions Equivalent to 400 Million More Cars

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined a coalition of 19 states and the District of Columbia in releasing the following joint statement announcing an intention to challenge the Trump Administration’s illegal and environmentally-destructive plan to roll back federal limits on tailpipe pollution from cars and trucks. The coalition includes every state attorney general from jurisdictions that have adopted California’s more stringent standards to reduce vehicle emissions, improve miles-per-gallon, and save drivers money on gas.

“Federal rules to limit tailpipe pollution and improve fuel economy are our best strategy to reduce carbon pollution, improve air quality, and save drivers money on gas. The Administration’s proposal to weaken these rules will cause the American people to breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pump. If adopted, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s rollbacks will cost American drivers hundreds of billions of dollars. Freezing or weakening these standards puts the health of our children, seniors, and all communities at risk, and increases the rising costs of climate change for our states. This decision upends decades of cooperative state and federal action to protect our residents. We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.”

–  Attorneys General of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

Background on Clean Cars Rule:

In Pennsylvania, almost 23 percent of greenhouse gases and 37 percent of nitrogen-oxide emissions come from the transportation sector.  These transportation-related pollutants can trigger life-long asthma in young children, a condition that already affects more than 380,000 Pennsylvania kids.  The cost to the Commonwealth’s economy from asthma alone is predicted to be $2.6 billion every year by 2020.

Beginning in 2010, EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the California Air Resources Board agreed to establish a single national program to limit greenhouse gas emissions from model year 2012–2025 vehicles. This program allows automakers to design and manufacture vehicles that will comply with tailpipe standards in all states.

The current federal standards for model year 2022-2025 vehicles are estimated to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 540 million metric tons;
  • Remove the equivalent of 422 million cars from the road; and,
  • Save drivers $1,650 per vehicle.

If enacted, EPA’s proposal to freeze the emissions standards at 2020 levels would:

  • Reduce average fuel economy from an estimated 46.8 miles per gallon in model year 2026 vehicles to 37 miles per gallon;
  • Increase the country’s oil consumption by 5.3 to 11.9 million gallons per day in 2025;
  • Result in 16 to 37 million metric tons more carbon pollution in 2025; and,
  • Cost Americans between $193 billion and $236 billion more at the pump through 2035.

In January 2017, EPA determined, in its “midterm evaluation,” that the existing 2022-2025 standards are readily achievable by the auto industry. After an extensive technical review, based in significant part on information from industry, advocates, and other interested parties, EPA found that “automakers are well positioned to meet the standards at lower costs than previous estimated.”

However, in April, EPA arbitrarily reversed course and claimed that the greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2022–2025 vehicles should be scrapped. The current Administration offered no evidence other than a meager record of self-serving industry analysis to support this decision and deferred further analysis to a forthcoming rulemaking.

A coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia—who together represent 44 percent of the U.S population and 43 percent of the national new car sales market—sued the agency last month over its decision to withdraw the agency’s evaluation supporting the standards. The lawsuit alleges that EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously, failed to follow its own Clean Car regulations, and violated the Clean Air Act.

In its draft rule, EPA not only proposes to freeze federal emissions standards at 2020 levels but also threatens the authority of states to enforce stronger standards to protect residents. The Clean Air Act authorizes California to adopt emission standards that are more stringent than the federal standards and other states are authorized to adopt those same standards for new motor vehicles sold within their states. California’s standards have a huge impact on auto manufacturers and are vitally important to public health for millions of Americans. The proposed rule would eliminate the California standard, subjecting every state to less efficient and dirtier standards.

“Under the Clean Air Act, states have the authority to put stronger limits on tailpipe pollution when the federal standards fail to protect citizens, so Pennsylvania has chosen to set its own, higher standards,” said Attorney General Shapiro.  “I’m standing up to defend Pennsylvania’s right to make its own rules that protect citizens – which is now more important than ever.”

Pennsylvania and the other 11 states that follow California’s standards are home to 74 million people, or approximately one quarter of the country’s population. These states consume more than 28 billion gallons of gas annually, approximately one fifth of the national total.

If EPA succeeds in rescinding the authority of California and the states that follow its standards, the drivers in all those states stand to pay approximately $65 to $80 billion more in gasoline costs through 2035 than if those states retain their authority to enforce the current California standards.

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