N.J. Challenges EPA Rollback of Federal Auto Fuel Economy Standards

Attorney General Grewal Joins Multi-State Fight to Uphold Existing Limits, Protect Air Quality

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TRENTON – Acting to protect the safety of New Jersey residents, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today joined California in petitioning a federal appeals court to stop the Trump Administration from undermining federal vehicle fuel economy standards that were designed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In a petition for review filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the participating states challenge a recently-announced decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin the process of cutting back on the 2011 fuel economy standards. These standards were projected to result in a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases and 40 percent reduction in fuel consumption by 2025.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced earlier this month that he found the current standards “inappropriate,” which triggers a new rulemaking process. The EPA decision was immediately attacked by air quality advocates and states as a decision that will inevitably result in significant harm to the environment – and one that goes even further than what the auto industry had sought.

“I oppose in the strongest terms EPA’s ill-conceived and dangerous decision to roll back a landmark agreement to combat climate change,” said Attorney General Grewal. “As the EPA itself noted in 2016, New Jersey’s climate is changing due to greenhouse gas pollution, which increases the potential for more life-threatening storms like Superstorm Sandy. As an environmental matter and as a matter of public safety, this EPA action is wrong, and we are committed to fighting it.”

“As we aggressively tackle the complex issue of fighting climate change, particularly vital for a coastal state such as New Jersey, this administration stands committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and will not stand for any proposal that would put those efforts at risk,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe.

In summer 2011, the White House, California and major auto manufacturers reached an agreement to raise fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks between 2017 and 2025.

The agreement called for U.S. vehicle fleets to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which would also significantly reduce the level of harmful emissions from cars and trucks.

A publication generated by the EPA – entitled What Climate Change Means to New Jersey – reported that greenhouse gas emissions are changing New Jersey’s climate, leaving residents more likely to experience heavy rainstorms, rising seas, intensified beach erosion and flooding.

“In the coming decades, changing the climate is likely to increase coastal and inland flooding, harm coastal and inland ecosystems, disrupt fishing and farming, and increase some risks to human health,” the EPA publication noted.

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