by Chris White
Almost every Democratic attorney general is suing the Trump administration over the president’s attempt to nix California’s ability to set strict emission standards.
AG Xavier Becerra of California sued the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after it put out a regulation Thursday ending the state’s ability to set its own rules on pollution coming from vehicles. The federal government has given the state permission since the 1970s to etch out its own rules.
Becerra is being joined by Democratic attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
Los Angeles and New York City also joined the lawsuit.
“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, a Democrat, said in a press statement announcing the maneuver.
Becerra has sued the administration more than 60 times since 2017. Much of the litigation is designed to hit Trump’s environmental rollbacks.
The Environmental Protection Agency argued the president’s move will overcome any legal hurdles.
“Our rule makes clear that California only has the ability to obtain a waiver for local effects of local pollution,” EPA spokesman Michael Abboud told the Daily Caller News Foundation. EPA has granted those waivers over many years.
He added: “We are confident we are correctly applying the law and will prevail in the courts.”
The administration unveiled a draft plan in 2018 to roll back the federal fuel economy standards the Obama administration put in place. The draft included a plan to revoke a waiver given to California under the 1970 Clean Air Act, which allows it to set tougher state-level standards.
Former President Barack Obama raised the average fuel economy of the U.S. automobile fleet to 54.5 mpg by 2025, according to The Washington Post. California got permission from the Obama administration to issue its own, higher emissions standards. Granting California an exemption allows the state to set national policy, free market groups argue.
California dominates 35% of the U.S. market and dozens of states follow their standards.
Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks and the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote to the EPA in March 2018 asking “for the revocation of California’s waiver from the Clean Air Act” that allows the state to set its own, higher fuel economy regulations.
“California’s stated goal is to remove all gasoline-powered vehicles from the roads and replace them with their electric counterparts, and the state uses the Clean Air Act waiver to achieve this goal,” the groups wrote to then-EPA Administration Scott Pruitt.
Pruitt resigned in 2018 after media outlets reported on his private flight travel.
Neither the White House nor the NHTSA have responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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Chris White is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.