The lawsuit filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia marks the latest in an escalating battle between White House and California officials about how quickly the nation's fleet should increase its fuel economy. The feud has already led to several legal disputes, a divided automotive industry and uncertainty in the country's car market.
In mid-September, the Trump administration took action to abolish California's decades of ability to set automobile air pollution standards, ie. pickups and SUVs that go beyond those required by the federal government. California's power to set such standards dates from the Clean Air Act of 1
The administration's move was a prime example in a broad campaign to undermine Obama-era policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel the change of the climate.  "The Trump administration is taking very weak steps in trying to reverse the denial," says Richard L. Revesch, an expert in environmental law and law at New York University Law School. He added that "the action is unprecedented" and that the Clean Air Act "does not consider the federal government's ability to repeal the waiver already granted."
Asked about the case on Friday, EPA spokeswoman Molly Block said the agency did not comment pending litigation. But she said the administration has the right to move ahead with its revised mileage standards and to clarify "clearly that federal law warns state and local greenhouse gas emission standards" as well as zero-emission vehicles.
"This action will help ensure that there is one and only one, a set of national standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for vehicles," Block added.
California and 22 other states, along with several cities, filed a separate federal lawsuit in September against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, claiming that efforts to prevent California from setting more ambitious emissions standards "go beyond NHTSA's authority, contradict intent Congress is arbitrary and capricious and because NHTSA has failed to carry out the analysis required under the National Environmental Policy Act. " The last DC Circuit application also includes a petition asking the court to review NHTSA's efforts to buy California's right to set exhaust emission standards.
California enjoys an exception under the Clean Air Act of 1970, which allows it to obtain a federal refusal to set stricter standards for Air Pollution; other states may follow the California standard. The EPA granted the state a waiver to set emission targets in 2009, one that the agency is trying to withdraw.
This opposition began last year when the NHTSA and EPA jointly issued a proposal to the Trump administration last year to withdraw California's "Refusal" as part of a rule that would freeze mileage standards for those vehicles by approximately 37 miles per gallon from 2020 to 2026. Obama-era standards require those fleets to average close to 51 mpg by model year 2025.
In July, California struck an agreement after months of secret negotiations with four companies – Ford, Honda "," olksvagen "and" BMW "of North America – under which they promised to produce a fleet average of nearly 50 mpg by model year 2026. The Ministry of Justice has opened an investigation into whether the agreement violated antitrust laws.
The episode reveals a rare policy gap in the automotive industry – one that can uproot powerful automakers g
Emissions from the transportation sector, including cars and trucks, are now ranked the largest single greenhouse gas source in the US .
And while some of the biggest car makers are now on the Trump administration's side in its legal fight against California, the Americans themselves appear to support stricter mileage targets. The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation, released in September, found that 66 percent of Americans oppose Trump's plan to freeze fuel efficiency standards instead of imposing the Obama administration's 2025 targets.
Almost identical 67 percent of the majority said they support the governments of the government to set more stringent fuel efficiency targets than the federal government. Among Californians, the survey found that 68 percent oppose Trump's release of mileage standards, while 61 percent support stricter standards in California.
At present, 13 states and the District of Columbia have pledged to comply with California standards if they deviate from the federal government, the District also joined California in the case filed Friday.