California, other states sue Environmental Protection Agency
California was among 16 other states and the District of Columbia to sue the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday, May 1 for its weakened auto emission standards. Rather than raising the standards for greenhouse gas emissions that threaten our environment, these standards are instead being lowered for cars and light trucks of model years 2022-2025. Behind this decision was none other than EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has been called “Outlaw Pruitt” by California Governor Jerry Brown.
According to The New Yorker, in Pruitt’s first year of working as administrator for the EPA, he “proposed repealing or delaying more than thirty significant environmental rules.” When the White House intended to cut the EPA’s annual budget by 25 percent, Pruitt made no objection.
The 1970 Clean Air Act clearly states that its purpose is to “protect public health and public welfare and to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants.” Under the Obama Administration, California was also granted a waiver, which allowed the state to set its own emission limits, raise their standards and produce more fuel-efficient cars. Pruitt, however, disagreed with the Obama Administration, claiming in an EPA news release that “Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country. EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford — while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars.”
Pruitt went on to explain that it’s in “America’s best interest” to set a national standard for auto emissions, essentially undermining state-given powers. Pruitt continues to use his position as a Republican politician and the administrator of the EPA to feed into President Donald Trump’s blatant disregard for global warming science, undermining everything the EPA stands for.
The Department of Transportation plans to propose freezing fuel economy standards at the model year 2020 levels, which would essentially allow the EPA to lower the greenhouse gas standard and prevent California from imposing its own, higher standards. According to the California Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 2000-2015, over a third of California’s greenhouse gases are emitted from transportation alone. In order to combat this, the standards set by the Obama Administration required the average gas mileage for all cars and light trucks by 2025 to reach 50 miles per gallon. Pruitt, however, claimed that this would increase car costs for consumers.
But what Pruitt failed to take into consideration is that weakening auto emission standards would pose a negative externality on the environment. Brown and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra both expressed their frustration with Pruitt’s decision for the EPA, stating that California was ready to fight if it came down to it. Even executives at various auto companies — including General Motors, Ford and Honda — are questioning the EPA’s decision, stating that they are in support of increasing clean car standards.
Pruitt’s claims are inadequate at best. Our political system favors those who abuse their power and are ill-informed of the statistics and science behind the claims they make. The Editorial Board urges California and the other states suing the EPA to stand their ground against Pruitt and the Trump Administration. Despite what some naive politicians claim, climate change is a real and catastrophic issue that we will continue to face if no positive adjustments are made — and soon.
Written by: The Editorial Board