Press Release

Twenty AGs Commit to Challenge Trump Administration’s Unwarranted Rollback of Car Pollution Standards

AGs continue to fight for their residents’ rights to clean air, strong environmental protections

Washington, D.C. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey led a coalition of 20 attorneys general in a statement announcing the states’ intention to fight the Trump Administration’s proposal to weaken emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks covering model years 2021 through 2026.

“The EPA is once again canceling environmental protections, putting the health of every American at risk and costing all of us hundreds of billions more at the pump,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “We will sue the EPA to stop this reckless and illegal plan.”

The statement from the AGs responds to the draft proposal issued jointly today from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation announcing their intent to freeze the existing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards at 2020 levels, allowing far more pollution on our nation’s roadways.

“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,” said the AGs in their statement.

The draft proposal also included the Administration’s misguided plan to rescind California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act that allows the State to set its own standard for regulating greenhouse gas emissions. California is the only State that is able to obtain a waiver under federal law, but an additional 12 States and the District of Columbia have opted into those standards under Section 177 of the Clean Air Act.

Section 177 States have 74 million residents, or about one-fourth of the entire U.S. population. They also have an additional 55 million registered vehicles, or about one-fifth of the total number of vehicles in the U.S. The addition of California brings the total number of people living in states affected by EPA’s proposed attack on States’ rights to 113 million, and it brings the total number of registered vehicles to 85 million. This is approximately one-third of the total number of people and registered vehicles in the U.S.

“State attorneys general will not stand by as the Administration tries to roll back fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions standards and nullify states’ rights to enforce pollution standards under the Clean Air Act,” said David J. Hayes, Executive Director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center. “The Clean Air Act gives California, and other leading states, the right to step in and reduce vehicle air emissions when the federal government fails to act. Here, 19 states and the District of Columbia stand in solidarity with California in insisting that car companies fulfill their commitment to improve fuel efficiency and reduce smog and climate change-inducing tailpipe emissions.”

AGs from each of the Section 177 States and the District of Columbia joined Massachusetts in announcing their intention to challenge the Administration’s action - they include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Seven additional AGs from other states also expressed their opposition, including Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia.


On May 1, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led a coalition of seventeen attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for beginning the process of rolling back critical vehicle emissions standards that help to ensure clean air. The lawsuit is based on EPA’s arbitrary and capricious action — in its midterm evaluation — to begin weakening the fuel efficiency standards for model years 2022-2025 in violation of its responsibilities under the Clean Air Act.

“The evidence is irrefutable: today’s clean car standards are achievable, science-based and a boon for hardworking American families. But the EPA and Administrator Scott Pruitt refuse to do their job and enforce these standards,” said AG Becerra at the time.

In April, state attorneys general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, were joined by mayors nationwide in releasing a declaration vowing to challenge the EPA’s rollback of national clean car standards in order to protect the environment and their residents from unhealthy air. The declaration from more than 50 cities and over 25 states makes clear their opposition to the rollback of a federal rule that set achievable targets for an increasingly clean, efficient and high-performance vehicle fleet through model year 2025.

“As state attorneys general, mayors and county executives, we – not Washington, D.C. – are primarily responsible for the transportation systems upon which our residents and our local and regional economies depend,” said the attorneys general and mayors in the declaration. “A clean, efficient and high-performance vehicle fleet is an essential component of these systems.”

Since January 2017, state attorneys general have taken over 100 actions to advance and defend progressive clean energy, climate and environmental laws and policies. View all actions on the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center’s website. All AG actions related to vehicle emissions can be viewed here.


About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center:
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan academic center at NYU School of Law. The Center is dedicated to working towards a healthy and safe environment, guided by inclusive and equitable principles. The Center studies and supports the work of state attorneys general (AGs) in defending, enforcing, and promoting strong laws and policies in the areas of climate, environmental justice, environmental protection, and clean energy.

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