Attorney General Josh Shapiro Friday announced a coalition of Attorneys General and the Department of Environmental Protection intends to take legal action if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rolls back important federal vehicle emission rules to limit the carbon pollutants and other gases emitted by hundreds of millions of cars across the country.
In a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Attorney General Shapiro, his colleague attorneys general and DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell made the case for keeping the EPA vehicle emission standards in place, and concluded if EPA weakens or delays them: “We intend to vigorously pursue appropriate legal remedies to block such action.”
"Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to clear air and pure water, and I’ll take legal action as needed to protect that right,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Maintaining the current vehicle emission standards is critical to our efforts to combat global climate change. Those efforts are even more important in the wake of President Trump's decision to withdraw from an international accord to protect the climate."
“In addition to being important protections for public health and the environment, emissions standards are important consumer protections – rolling back these limits will cost Pennsylvanians money every time they go to the gas station,” Gov.Tom Wolf said. “This is a step in the wrong direction for the federal government and Pennsylvania consumers.”
Cars and light trucks emit 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions (mostly carbon dioxide) in the United States, the Attorneys General and DEP Secretary wrote in their letter to EPA Administrator Pruitt, adding: “These vehicles emit well over a trillion tons in greenhouse gases each year from their tailpipes, emissions which are contributing to raising the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to levels already producing increasingly intense climate-change impacts.”
The letter to Pruitt details how the EPA, prior to the Trump Administration, partnered with the auto industry and other stakeholders to set stringent standards for greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks for the 2017-2025 model years.
That collaborative process produced 2012 emission rules that substantially cut carbon pollution by the equivalent of the annual emissions of 422 million cars on the road.
These 2012 standards also limit nitrogen oxide and other smog-forming emissions that trigger asthma attacks.
By improving the fuel economy of cars and light trucks, the standards reduce United States’ dependence on foreign oil.
EPA Administrator Pruitt upended that process last month when he suggested in writing to California authorities that the EPA had “circumvented” required legal and scientific steps in evaluating the emission standards and was moving too quickly to implement its own rules.
The attorneys general and DEP secretary vowed in their letter to Pruitt that if EPA “acts to weaken or delay the current standards,” the coalition will “vigorously” pursue legal remedies to block that action.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Shapiro announced he was helping to lead a national coalition of governors, mayors and business leaders that pledged their commitment to the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement – after President Trump said the United States plans to withdraw from the accord.
“Our actions are about standing up for the rule of law, and protecting the constitutional right of every Pennsylvanian to clear air and pure water,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “We’ll fight every day to uphold those rights for Pennsylvania residents.”
Attorney General Shapiro has made environmental protection a cornerstone of his leadership of the Office of Attorney General. In his first 100 days, Attorney General Shapiro has hired Steve Santarsiero as Chief Deputy for Environmental Protection, settled a multi-state lawsuit against Volkswagen over emissions violations, and directed all divisions in the Office of Attorney General to prioritize environmental issues in the course of their work.
“Whether it’s suing an international company for emission violations or standing up to the President and his administration on actions they’re taking on climate change and vehicle emissions, I’m committed to protecting Pennsylvania’s natural resources,” Attorney General Shapiro said.
A copy of the joint letter is available online.