Multiple Trade Groups File Briefs To Challenge EPA Reinstatement Of California Car Waiver

EMA, along with 14 other private petitioners and 17 states, filed their opening briefs this week with the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. on their challenges to EPA’s reinstatement last March of the Clean Air Act preemption waiver for California’s motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards and zero-emission vehicle mandate to address climate change.

EMA, joined by NACS, AFPM, Valero, and renewable fuels groups, told the court that the waiver provision in the federal Clean Air Act does not permit California to have its own state standards for national and international problems like climate change.

The brief details how the Clean Air Act’s text, structure, and history make clear that the “California waiver” is intended to address only unique and extraordinary conditions in the State that result from in-state emissions and local pollution concentrations and that global climate change does not qualify or fit into California’s particularized smog conditions.

“Congress has neither mandated a wholesale shift in the U.S. vehicle fleet from internal-combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles nor given California the ‘pen’ to transform motor fuels retailing across the country,” said EMA President Rob Underwood. “Any effort to address and solve global climate change must come from Congress and not from EPA and certainly not from a single state, California.”

The brief submitted by EMA and the others points out that California does not “need” its own emission standards to “meet” global climate-change conditions because, as EPA previously concluded in 2019, the State’s emission standards will make no meaningful difference in conditions in California related to climate change.

In addition, the brief argues that EPA’s flip-flop in reinstating the California waiver based on the agency’s novel view of its reconsideration authority under the Clean Air Act cannot be legally sustained.

“EMA will remain fully engaged in fighting any bans on gasoline-powered vehicles, including from California,” Underwood said. “In addition to the legal challenges, there remain plenty of practical challenges to a transition to electric vehicles, including skeptical consumers about the performance and range of EVs, that the Association will continue to provide leadership within the industry.”

EPA and intervenors supporting the agency will now file their opposing briefs with the appellate court, followed by a reply by EMA and the other petitioners.

In addition to asking the court to review the Biden administration’s restoration of the Clean Air Act waiver for California, EMA also is seeking review of EPA’s tailpipe emissions standards issued last December that would effectively mandate a percentage of EVs in order for automakers to meet the federal standards.

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