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Ore. Joins Lawsuit to Protect Cleaner Car Emission Standards

Oregon adopted higher fuel-efficiency standards more than a decade ago. Now, those standards could be in the EPA's sights. (MikesPhotos/Flickr)
Oregon adopted higher fuel-efficiency standards more than a decade ago. Now, those standards could be in the EPA's sights. (MikesPhotos/Flickr)
May 2, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon and 16 other states are suing the Trump administration over its proposal to end higher emission standards for cars. The California-led coalition represents more than 40 percent of the U.S. auto market.

Last month, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said the agency would revise Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards because they're too high for the auto industry to meet. The standards would have required vehicles to get about 50 miles per gallon by 2025. Chris Hagerbaumer, deputy director of the Oregon Environmental Council, said that would have a big impact on the environment, "basically, the equivalent of taking 134 coal-power plants offline.

"So, they're critical to fighting climate change, they're critical to providing cleaner air for all Americans to breathe, and they also save car drivers money at the pump," she said.

Last year, the transportation sector became the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. The lawsuit claims the EPA acted arbitrarily in its decision to roll back standards. Hagerbaumer said auto companies already are making cleaner cars, and are on the path to meeting more efficient fuel targets.

More than a decade ago, Oregon and 11 other states followed California after that state received a waiver to set separate, higher fuel-efficiency standards. The waivers shield the states from the EPA's decision last month, but Hagerbaumer said Pruitt seems to be signaling he could come after this exception next.

"It is a prelude to the federal government trying to take away state authority for protecting its people from dirty air and climate change," she said. "That is a move in the wrong direction."

In his decision last month, Pruitt said the EPA is re-examining California's waiver. The 13 states with higher standards represent about 36 percent of all car sales in the United States.

The lawsuit is online at oag.ca.gov, the EPA emissions-standards decision is at epa.gov, and the U.S. EIA data is at eia.gov.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR