Democrats Defend States’ Rights and Clean Cars Standards Against Trump Administration’s Unlawful SAFE Vehicles Preemption Rule; File Amicus Brief in Union of Concerned Scientists v. NHTSA
Jul 06 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, 29 U.S. Senators led by Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Ranking Member Tom Carper and 118 members of the U.S. House of Representatives led by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. filed an amicus brief in the case of Union of Concerned Scientists, et al. v. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), et al., which is currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The Union of Concerned Scientists led 57 public interest groups and state and local governments in filing petitions for review of the Trump Administration’s unlawful “Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule,” which rescinds states’ authority under the Clean Air Act to set vehicle emissions standards for greenhouse gases. The lawmakers argue this action not only jeopardizes public health by abandoning one of the most effective tools for fighting the climate crisis, but also runs afoul of both the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) and the Clean Air Act by wrongly concluding that federal law preempts state vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards.
“NHTSA’s conclusion that state greenhouse gas emission and zero-emission vehicle standards are preempted by EPCA — and EPA’s decision to revoke California’s waiver, founded in part on that faulty determination — conflict with Congress’ express and consistent intent to ensure that states maintain the authority to regulate vehicle emissions to protect air quality and public health,” the lawmakers wrote in the brief.
Lawmakers emphasized in the brief that the conclusions used in the SAFE Vehicles Rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and NHTSA directly conflict with Congress’ intent in enacting the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and amending it in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. An examination of Congress’ actions over more than forty years shows that the Administration’s rule is wrong in its attempt to preempt state vehicle emission standards.
“The agencies’ conclusions directly conflict with the letter of EPCA, Congress’ intent in enacting it, and more than forty years of implementation,” continued the lawmakers.
In addition to Chairman Pallone and Ranking Member Carper, the brief was joined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, the House and Senate authors of the 2007 fuel economy provisions – Senators Edward J. Markey and Dianne Feinstein, respectively – and more than one hundred additional lawmakers. The brief describes efforts that were made – and repeatedly rejected by Congress – by automobile manufacturers and by the Bush Administration to include language preempting California’s authority during the negotiation of the 2007 law.
States representing more than half of the nation’s population and nearly 60 percent of the U.S. economy have joined the lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s efforts to strip them of the rights granted to them under the Clean Air Act. Those states, including the District of Columbia, are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, the People of the State of Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Read the lawmakers’ amicus brief here.