Seventeen States Challenge Restoration of California Emissions Exemption | Morgana Lewis
The lawsuit challenges California’s authority to implement climate change-related vehicle emissions standards and zero emissions goals.
Seventeen states filed a lawsuit in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on May 12, 2022, challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to reinstate California’s Clean Air Act waiver (commonly known as the California Waiver).
As discussed in our before LawFlash, the waiver grants California special status to set more stringent exhaust emission standards for new vehicles than those set at the federal level (including California’s zero-emission vehicle program) and has been a driving force key to the steady reduction of U.S. vehicle emissions since it was granted. in the 1960s. The lawsuit is in reaction to the EPA’s announcement earlier this year that it would reverse a Trump-era decision to revoke the waiver, which itself was a reversal of a policy with decades of precedent.
The lawsuit, initiated by the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, ‘Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia, is the latest in a line of administration and policy reversals and legal battles over the California Waiver. The plaintiff states argue that the waiver violates the doctrine of equal sovereignty guaranteed to all states by the Constitution and challenge California’s authority to implement climate change-related vehicle emissions standards and targets. zero emissions which, for all intents and purposes, would apply nationally.
The lawsuit is a mirror image of a lawsuit filed in 2019 by California and other states challenging the Trump administration’s decision to revoke the California waiver. There, the plaintiff states, among other things, that Congress intended California to design and implement its own emissions control program so that it could deal with the “extraordinary” air quality conditions of California, and that the EPA had no authority to rescind a granted waiver. under the Clean Air Act. That lawsuit was put on hold early in the litigation after President Joseph Biden ordered the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reconsider overturning the California Waiver.
Now, with the roles reversed, dissenting states are challenging the latest policy reversal, perhaps in view of a hearing before a Supreme Court that might be receptive to challenge.
The Biden-Harris administration and the state of California have both committed to ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and incentivize the shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. Although California looks poised to continue leveraging its size and historic leadership to fight for the ability to enforce vehicle emissions standards nationwide, how the federal government is responding in this lawsuit challenging his authority to delegate power to California under the Clean Air Act is key. developments to watch. Interested parties should remain informed of this and any future litigation involving the California Waiver.