In recent days — as the globally planned “climate strike” to bring attention to climate change approached — the Trump administration announced plans to revoke a waiver from federal guidelines that allowed California to set its own especially stringent car emissions rules in recent years. Now, California state Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) has banded together with a full 23 other states from across the country to take the Trump administration to court over their plans, insisting that they’re illegally “arbitrary and capricious.” The lawsuit even has leaders of the major cities Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and New York City on board.
Becerra bluntly insisted:
‘The Oval Office is really not a place for on-the-job training. President Trump should have at least read the instruction manual he inherited when he assumed the Presidency, in particular the chapter on respecting the Rule of Law. Mr. President, we’ll see you in court.’
Referring to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the lawsuit Becerra helped bring argues that the Trump administration’s newly announced formal plans to upend the state’s car emissions standards “exceeds NHTSA’s authority, contravenes Congressional intent, and is arbitrary and capricious,” besides the issue that the NHTSA “has failed to conduct the analysis required under the National Environmental Policy Act.” California has been granted waivers from federal regulations that allow it to set its own environmental protection standards in some areas for decades, and this case of car emissions is the first time the federal government has revoked one of those.
California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) — who, like Becerra, has directly confronted the Trump team numerous times before — added:
‘California won’t bend to the President’s reckless and politically motivated attacks on our clean car waiver. We’ll hold the line in court to defend our children’s health, save consumers money at the pump and protect our environment.’
The California Air Resources Board’s leader Mary Nichols seems to think that there’s a good possibility the states’ suit will result in a victory for those pushing for the stricter emissions standards. She shared:
‘I started my career litigating to clean up the air in California with one of the first Clean Air Act cases ever filed. I won then and we will win now. We are ready to keep fighting to protect our people and our planet.’
There is a definite precedent for the Trump administration losing in court — some of their most key policy pushes have ended up nullified over and over again. Even the currently conservative majority U.S. Supreme Court has upended a Trump plan (to include a question about citizenship on U.S. census forms) because it was too arbitrary, just like Becerra and others are arguing here.
Throughout his time in office, Trump has mostly defined his approach to environmental protection and climate change-related issues by sticking up for corporations when and wherever he can. It’s to that end that he abruptly withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, for instance — although some areas around the country are still seeking to adhere to the standards it set.
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