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November 15, 2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL FILES SUIT AGAINST EPA FOR ATTACKING CALIFORNIA’S ADVANCED CLEAN CAR STANDARDS

Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today joined a coalition of 26 states and cities in filing a lawsuit opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to revoke portions of a waiver it granted in 2013 that permit California to implement its own greenhouse gas (GHG) and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standards for certain vehicles. The action, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is part of Raoul and the coalition’s ongoing fight to protect California’s Advanced Clean Car Standards. California’s standards are followed, in whole or in part, by 13 other states and are a key part of state efforts to fight climate change and protect public health and the environment.

“These standards are important in keeping our air clean and our environment safe,” Raoul said. “This rollback would restrict Illinois’ ability to prevent pollution, fight climate change, and limit harms to air quality, which lead to serious health issues for many people.”

Today’s filing also includes a protective petition that asks the D.C. Circuit to review a separate regulation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is designed to preempt California’s GHG and ZEV standards. On Sept. 20, 2019, Attorney General Raoul and a coalition of 27 states and cities filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit alleging that the 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 the D.C. Circuit, and briefing is ongoing. While the coalition maintains that the district court has jurisdiction in its challenge to the NHTSA’s regulation, in the event the court disagrees, the protective portion of today’s petition preserves the coalition’s ability to challenge the NHTSA’s preemption regulation.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, California may obtain a waiver from the 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. Thanks to those standards, states have reduced emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons annually, encouraging the development of emission controls technologies and contributing to stronger federal standards.

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

Blocking these standards will accelerate climate change and continue to cause extreme flooding and storms that are harming Illinois. Residents and communities throughout Illinois experienced severe spring storms and record flood levels in 2019. Extreme weather also prevented farmers from planting crops on time, reduced crop yield, and harmed crop quality, all of which negatively impacts Illinois’ economy. The federal rule would illegally impede Illinois’ statutory right to adopt its own vehicle regulations to protect residents from pollution.

The Attorney General’s office has long advocated for meaningful limits on automobile emissions. In 2007 the Attorney General’s office joined landmark litigation which found that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Raoul and the office also have filed briefs and comments opposing the EPA’s efforts to weaken fuel economy standards.

Joining Raoul in filing the lawsuit are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, 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. The cities of Los Angeles and New York also joined the lawsuit.

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