Feds ask court to toss lawsuit over Trump’s move in Calif.

Source: By Jennifer Hijazi, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Federal attorneys want a court to scrap or change the venue for lawsuits challenging a move by the Trump administration to block California from setting its own tailpipe emissions standards.

In a filing yesterday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Justice Department attorneys asked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, an Obama appointee, to either dismiss the challenges or transfer the cases to a federal appeals court.

States and environmentalists filed the lawsuits after the National Highway Traffic Safety Association proposed a rule paving the way for EPA to revoke a Clean Air Act waiver allowing the Golden State to establish its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

The government said that only the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has the authority to grapple with questions concerning the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which NHTSA invoked to support walking back California’s waiver.

“Under [federal statute], jurisdiction over challenges to NHTSA’s rulemaking — including jurisdiction to determine whether NHTSA has the statutory authority claimed — lies exclusively in the courts of appeal,” federal lawyers wrote.

“Plaintiffs have therefore filed in the wrong court.”

The government asked that the district court toss the complaints or move the case to the D.C. Circuit.

In their reply yesterday, environmentalists said the statute does not require the D.C. Circuit to review EPCA challenges.

“Defendants would prefer that this case proceed directly in the D.C. Circuit, and they now contend that the courts of appeals have exclusive jurisdiction to review the Preemption Rule pursuant to EPCA’s judicial review provision,” the green groups wrote. “Defendants’ new contention that EPCA’s judicial review provision applies to the Preemption Rule is wrong.”

States and environmentalists also filed petitions against NHTSA in the D.C. Circuit to preserve their claims in anticipation of a fight over the proper venue for the case.

A separate set of challenges against EPA over its revocation of California’s waiver are pending in the federal appeals court.