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Attorney General William Tong

11/15/2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL TONG SUES EPA TO PROTECT CALIFORNIA'S ADVANCED CLEAN CAR STANDARDS

(Hartford, CT) -- Attorney General William Tong today joined a coalition led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its attempt to revoke California's waiver permitting the state's greenhouse gas (GHG) and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standards. The action, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is part of the coalition’s ongoing fight to protect California’s Advanced Clean Car Standards. These standards are followed, in whole or in part, by 13 other states including Connecticut and are a key part of state efforts to protect public health and the environment.

"No one wants dirtier cars and dirtier air. This attack on California's Clean Car Standards is a gift to polluters in the fossil fuel industry at the expense of everyone else. We sued NHTSA in September, and now we're suing the EPA to fight this harmful and unlawful scheme on all possible fronts. The Trump Administration needs to stop fighting progress and start fighting for our climate and clean air," said Attorney General Tong.

“The transportation sector in Connecticut is the single largest contributor to in-state air pollution, exacerbating our efforts to address climate change and clean up the air we all breathe,” said Katie S. Dykes, commissioner of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “California’s zero emission vehicle program is an important tool we can use to reduce emissions from the transportation sector in Connecticut. We fully support California’s authority to adopt advance clean vehicle standards and stand with them in leading the nation to address climate change and protect public health and the environment.”

Today’s filing petitions the D.C. Circuit to review a separate regulation by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is designed to preempt California’s GHG and ZEV standards. On September 20, 2019, Attorney General Tong and a coalition of 24 attorneys general and three cities, filed a lawsuit in the district court in Washington, D.C. alleging that NHTSA’s preemption regulation is unlawful and should be vacated. The federal government has moved to dismiss that case on the grounds that it belongs in D.C. Circuit Court, and briefing is ongoing. While the coalition maintains that the district court has jurisdiction in this challenge, in the event the court disagrees, the protective portion of today’s petition preserves the coalition’s ability to challenge NHTSA’s preemption regulation.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, California may obtain a waiver from EPA to set its own vehicle emissions standards that are at least as protective as the federal government’s standards. Under certain conditions, other states have the option to adopt California’s standards, which Connecticut has done.

Congress granted California this option for several reasons, including: California’s historical leadership in vehicle emissions regulation; California’s need to address the extraordinary and compelling air pollution issues affecting the state; and the benefits the nation accrues from allowing California and willing states to foster advances in reducing pollution from vehicles. Over the past 50 years, the EPA has granted more than 100 waivers for California standards.

On its own, following California's program, Connecticut would reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the state by approximately 1.4 million metric tons a year by 2025 and 2.5 million metric tons a year by 2030.

In January 2012, California adopted its comprehensive Advanced Clean Cars Program for cars and light duty trucks for model years 2017 through 2025, which Connecticut also adopted. The program combines the control of smog-causing pollutants and GHG emissions into a single coordinated package. The program improves air quality and curbs GHG while saving drivers money at the pump. When accounting for emissions savings from other states that have adopted California’s standards, these emission reductions nearly triple.

Attorney General Tong joined the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, 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; as well as the cities of Los Angeles and New York.

Assistant attorneys general Scott Koschwitz and Matt Levine, Head of the Environment Department, assisted the Attorney General in this matter.

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