Minnesota joins coalition of 17 states to defend national clean car rules

Contact: Dave Verhasselt, 651-757-2278

The State of Minnesota today joined a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia in suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to preserve the greenhouse gas emission standards currently in place for model year 2022-2025 vehicles. The State of California is leading the coalition. The standards save drivers money at the pump, reduce oil consumption, and curb greenhouse gases (GHGs).

“We can see no justification, nor any documented need, to set these protections back,” says Commissioner John Linc Stine of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “That’s why we joined this lawsuit on behalf of Minnesota citizens,” says Commissioner Charles Zelle of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Earlier this month Commissioners Stine and Zelle co-signed a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt urging him to rescind the EPA plan to withdraw from the established emission standards. These comments are excerpted from the Minnesota letter to EPA:

For more than 50 years, policy makers in Washington have pushed American automakers to build better, safer, and cleaner cars.  We believe this latest set of environmental goals, put in place by the Obama Administration, are the logical outcome and continuation of this decades-old practice, and are very achievable by the industry. The practice of raising the bar on CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards for automakers has always transcended party politics and industry interests, and it has happened across decades resulting in public health and environmental benefits across the United States.

The U.S. automobile industry has long been a global leader in advancing new technologies that make vehicles cleaner and more efficient. These advancements have improved air quality across the country and saved consumers significant money at the gas pump. Maintaining the model year 2022-2025 light duty GHG emission standards will boost our economy, reduce harmful air pollutants, and ensure the United States continues to lead the globally competitive automobile industry.

With the announcement of today’s lawsuit filing, Stine pointed out that the proposed EPA action directly contradicts their stated desire for states to be innovators on environmental protection. “California and similarly regulated states, who make up a third of the automobile market, are looking to push innovation to help mitigate severe damages to public health and property from air pollution and climate impacts,” said Stine. “It makes no sense to block a negotiated path forward that avoids putting more gas-guzzling vehicles on the road, increases total gasoline consumption and significantly increases carbon dioxide emissions. Rolling back these rules will certainly result in all three of those outcomes.”

The federal standards the states are suing to protect, for model year 2022-2025 vehicles, are estimated to reduce carbon pollution equivalent to 134 coal-fired power plants operating for a year and to save drivers $1,650 per vehicle. At present, the car industry is on track to meet or exceed these standards.

Last year, the EPA affirmed these standards were appropriate based on an extensive review of data. On April 13, 2018, however, the EPA, without evidence to support the decision, arbitrarily reversed course and claimed that the GHG emissions standards for model years 2022-2025 vehicles should be eliminated.  

Today’s lawsuit claims the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously, failed to follow its own Clean Car regulations, and violated the Clean Air Act.

States suing the EPA include California, Minnesota, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. This coalition represents approximately 44% of the U.S. population and 43% of the new car sales market nationally.