Trump admin’s rollback ‘flawed and erroneous’ — states

Source: Ellen M. Gilmer, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, February 11, 2019

EPA’s decision to rethink Obama-era clean car rules was “untethered” to evidence and contrary to the agency’s own regulations, critics told a federal court yesterday.

States, environmental groups and others filed key legal briefs in a fight over the Trump administration’s reversal of Obama-era findings that served as the foundation for greenhouse gas emissions standards for model year 2022-25 vehicles.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit should strike down EPA’s recent move “because this flawed and erroneous Revised Determination violates multiple regulatory requirements and bedrock principles of administrative law,” a coalition of states led by California wrote.

At issue is EPA’s formal determination of whether clean car rules are appropriate. The Obama administration set standards in 2011, but then-Administrator Scott Pruitt announced after a midterm evaluation last year that the limits were inappropriate and needed to be loosened (Greenwire, April 3, 2018).

States and environmentalists sued over Pruitt’s final determination, arguing that EPA failed to follow its own procedural rules or provide a reasoned explanation for its change of heart.

“[T]he Administrator flouted EPA regulations guaranteeing all stakeholders — including Petitioners — a robust, transparent public process supporting a detailed, record-based ‘appropriateness’ determination,” environmental groups told the court.

They argue that the Trump administration’s about-face ignores evidence that the emissions standards were achievable at lower costs than projected.

EPA tried to duck the litigation over the clean car standards last year, but the D.C. Circuit rebuffed the government’s bid to have the case dismissed.

The agency has until April 8 to respond in court.