LONG BEACH, CALIF. — The California Air Resources Board, 17 U.S. states and D.C. filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for loosening greenhouse gas emission regulations in what the suit calls an “arbitrary and capricious” violation of the Clean Air Act.
A press release issued Tuesday stated that the standards, which were established by the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2010, and would apply to model year 2012-2025 vehicles starting in 2022, was affirmed last year by the EPA. But the standards were abandoned on April 13.
“The standards … were based on the best judgment of engineers about what technology could achieve. And in fact they are being achieved today, years ahead of the deadlines, because of the good work of the auto industry,” said CARB Chair Mary Nichols in an official statement.
The states participating in the lawsuit are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Minnesota.
Nichols was scheduled to be a part of a panel discussion on global and national trends accelerating alternative fuel adoption at the ACT EXPO on Tuesday. But she could not attend because of the lawsuit filing and the subsequent press conference called by California Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
CARB Assistant Division Chief Analisa Bevan spoke at the ACT EXPO on behalf of Nichols and provided attendees with an update on the lawsuit. She expressed CARB’s displeasure at EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposed loosening of the emissions standards, especially in light of all the time, money and effort that has already gone into meeting them, she said.
Bevan added that CARB will continue to work off of the current standards.
“Since 2012, we’ve been enforcing together a joint set of standards with U.S. EPA and NHTSA. This fulfilled long-standing pleas from the auto industry to have one set of standards we were all working under,” Nichols added during the Tuesday press conference.
The ACT EXPO general session panel featuring Bevans also welcomed to the stage representatives from two school bus suppliers: Steve Gilligan, VP of North American product and vocational marketing for Navistar, and Julie Furber, executive director of electrification for Cummins. Upon announcement of the lawsuit and the reasons for it, Gilligan and Furber confirmed that vehicle manufacturers need a single federal standard to refer to when making product decisions.
Furber commented on how federal standards drive manufacturing times and costs. Changes in the standards present challenges, as manufacturers need time to become compliant, she added.
Bevan declared that anything slowing the clean energy movement “would be disastrous.” She pointed to current energy-efficient passenger vehicles as an example of readily available ways to meet current emissions reduction goals.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruit announced on April 2 that GHG emissions standards for cars and light trucks should be revised. That day, STN reached out to the School Bus Manufacturer’s Technical Council, part of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services for comment. SMBTC Chair Joe Labonte responded that the Council had received no indication from the EPA that Pruitt’s proposal would affect the heavy-duty GHG rule.