EMA Petitions Supreme Court over California Electric Vehicle Mandate


On July 2, EMA, along with several trade associations, filed a petition with the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) challenging EPA’s decision to grant a waiver to the state of California for its 2021-2025 electric vehicle mandate, a policy governing the vehicle choice of nearly 40 percent of Americans directly and many more indirectly.

Whether California can blaze its own trail on combatting climate change also implicates the “major questions doctrine,” which holds that courts should not defer to agencies on questions of “vast economic or political significance” without explicit Congressional authority to do so. The petition asks the Court to decide whether the Clean Air Act authorized California to regulate vehicle emissions to target a phenomenon like climate change which has a global cause and effect.

“The wheels are already coming off the federal government’s electrification agenda due to skyrocketing utility bills, charging and repair costs, and low consumer interest, and yet, we continue to see the state of California dictating electric vehicle mandates across the country. Therefore, it’s time for the Court to step in to preserve consumer choice and ensure that all forms of energy are treated equally, which will guarantee that small business energy marketers can continue to sell American-made, American-grown fuels in the future,” said EMA President Rob Underwood.

Specifically, the petition urges SCOTUS to review and overturn an April ruling from the DC Circuit, which determined energy petitioners lacked standing, based on redressability, to challenge EPA’s issuance of a federal waiver allowing California to impose its Advanced Clean Cars I (ACCI) EV mandate. In dismissing the petitions, the DC Circuit failed to consider the merits of the statutory questions raised in the petitioners’ case. Secondly, the petition urges SCOTUS to decide the merits of the case to clarify that the “California waiver” in the Clean Air Act does not empower any one state to regulate vehicle greenhouse gas emissions, impose electric vehicle mandates or limit consumer access to internal combustion engine technology.

Other Legal Challenges Playing Out

EMA, along with several business groups and States, have asked the courts to review EPA’s prior tailpipe emissions standards for model year 2025 and 2026 vehicles and 2027-2032 as well as EPA’s heavy-duty trucking rule. Additionally, EMA joined an amicus curiae brief in a challenge to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s fuel-economy standards. Simply put, the Biden Administration’s final rules are an electrification mandate in disguise.

Even though automakers are committed to boosting EVs, many of them, as well as members on Capitol Hill, are raising questions about the Biden Administration’s new approach, from securing critical materials needed for EV batteries, to the availability of EV charging stations and the ability of electric grids to meet power needs. China’s stranglehold on the critical minerals industry and mining in Africa is a major concern. Additionally, given that heavy duty EVs weigh more than the internal combustion engine (ICE), there is a concern that more trips will be needed to carry products which will add more stress to our roads and bridges and likely result in more traffic deaths.