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Virginia Opts to Fight Rollback of Auto Pollution Rules

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Vehicle emissions are the leading cause of air pollution in Northern Virginia. (Neonfire/Wikipedia)
Vehicle emissions are the leading cause of air pollution in Northern Virginia. (Neonfire/Wikipedia)
 By Diane Bernard - Producer, Contact
September 23, 2019

FAIRFAX, Va. – Virginia has joined California and 21 other states in a lawsuit to stop the Trump administration from revoking the authority of the nation's most populous state to set its own emission standards for cars and trucks.

Trump's move to lower emission standards nationwide endangers the health of Northern Virginians, according to Fairfax Mayor David Meyer.

Meyer, who is a member of the Climate Mayors association, says vehicle emissions are the largest contributor to air pollution in the region.

"Those that are highest risk are those who are older, above the age of 50, or those who are under the age of 15, both children and older adults, with respect to asthma and heart ailments," he points out.

This summer, Gov. Eric Northam was one of two dozen governors calling on the federal government to raise its tailpipe emissions guidelines.

But the Trump administration says fewer pollution controls will lead to more vehicle production and make cars less expensive, and that a single emission standard is less confusing for manufacturers.

The Environmental Protection Agency's rollback of the Clean Air Act waiver also affects 13 other states and Washington, D.C., all of which adopted California's tougher standards.

Critics say the new federal emissions rules will create more greenhouse gas pollution. And that contributes to climate change, says Paul Billings, national senior vice president for public policy for the American Lung Association.

"Climate change makes air quality worse,” Billings stresses. “We have more hot smoggy days, more droughts that drive wildfire, more extreme weather events.

“So, not taking action to address carbon pollution makes air quality worse and threatens health."

With about two dozen states challenging the standard, known as the One Nation Program Rule, it likely means the case will be tied up in court for years.

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