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Attorney General Rosenblum Joins Lawsuit Challenging Trump Administration’s Rollback of National Clean Car Standards

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today joined a multistate coalition in filing a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s final rule rollback of the national Clean Car Standards. The previous standards required improvements in fuel economy and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars and light trucks. Since their introduction in 2010, these standards have saved on gas money, reduced harmful emissions, and helped protect the health of our communities. The Trump Administration’s Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles (SAFE) rule stops this progress in its tracks, hurting the economy and public health at a time when the country can least afford it. In the lawsuit, the coalition contends that the final rule unlawfully violates the Clean Air Act, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“This is yet another example of the federal government protecting big oil and big polluters over the wishes of states like Oregon that prioritize protecting our environment,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “By eliminating the Clean Car Standards, the federal government is turning back years of hard work meant to reduce carbon emissions and save families money. Oregonians are proud of our legacy of fighting for our environment and, along with many other states, for the well-being of our planet.”

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the California Air Resources Board, and car manufacturers established a unified national program merging greenhouse gas emission standards and fuel efficiency standards. Two years later, the agencies extended the national program to model years 2017-2025 vehicles. As part of the program, California and the federal agencies agreed to undertake a midterm evaluation to determine if the greenhouse gas emission standards for model years 2022-2025 vehicles should be maintained or revised. In January 2017, the EPA completed the midterm evaluation and issued a final determination affirming that the existing standards were appropriate.

The following year, the Trump Administration took its first step toward dismantling the national Clean Car Standards by reversing the final determination with a new mid-term evaluation that alleged the standards were no longer appropriate or feasible. The Trump Administration later made its rollback proposal official, despite the fact that the auto industry was currently on track to meet or exceed the Clean Car Standards.

On March 31, 2020, the Trump Administration announced it was rolling back the Clean Car Standards. The final rule takes aim at the corporate average fuel efficiency standards, requiring automakers to make only minimal improvements to fuel economy—1.5 percent annually instead of the previously annual increase of approximately 5 percent. The rule also guts the requirements to reduce vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions.

Oregon joins California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. The California Air Resources Board, the Cities of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Denver, and the Counties of San Francisco and Denver also joined the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit was filed in the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and serves as the state’s law firm. The Oregon DOJ advocates for and protects all Oregonians, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and seniors.