San Francisco, multistate coalition file lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rollback of Clean Car Standards

“We will not let the Trump Administration block decades of progress because they refuse to accept science.”

SAN FRANCISCO (May 27, 2020) – City Attorney Dennis Herrera today joined a multistate coalition suing the Trump Administration for its disastrous final rule rolling back the national Clean Car Standards. The previous standards required appropriate and feasible improvements in fuel economy and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars and light trucks.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera

Since their introduction in 2010, these standards have saved consumers money, reduced harmful emissions and helped protect public health. The Trump Administration’s misguided Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles rule undermines this progress, hurting the economy and public health at a time when the country can least afford it. This final rule unlawfully violates the Clean Air Act, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“This rule is a threat to the environment and to our communities’ health,” Herrera said. “The science is clear: vehicle emissions are a major cause of global warming. We need protections like national Clean Car Standards to slow emissions and climate change. It’s vital that we continue to preserve our environment and public health to create a cleaner future for generations to come. We will not let the Trump Administration block decades of progress because they refuse to accept science.”

Case Background

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the California Air Resources Board, and car manufacturers established a unified national program harmonizing greenhouse gas emission standards and fuel efficiency standards. Two years later, the agencies extended the national program to model years 2017-2025 vehicles. As part of the program, California and the federal agencies agreed to undertake a midterm evaluation to determine if the greenhouse gas emission standards for model years 2022-2025 vehicles should be maintained or revised. In January 2017, the EPA completed the midterm evaluation and issued a final determination affirming that the existing standards were appropriate and would not be changed.

The following year, the Trump Administration took its first step toward dismantling the national Clean Car Standards by reversing the final determination with a new mid-term evaluation that alleged the standards were no longer appropriate or feasible. The Trump Administration later made its rollback proposal official, despite the fact that the auto industry was currently on track to meet or exceed the Clean Car Standards.

On March 31, 2020, the Trump Administration announced its final rule rolling back the Clean Car Standards. The rule takes aim at the corporate average fuel efficiency standards, requiring automakers to make only minimal improvements to fuel economy — on the order of 1.5 percent annually instead of the previously anticipated annual increase of approximately 5 percent. The rule also guts the requirements to reduce vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions, allowing hundreds of millions of metric tons of avoidable carbon emissions into our atmosphere over the next decade.

In the lawsuit, the coalition argues that the Trump Administration’s rollback of the national Clean Cars Standards is unlawful because, among other things:

  • The EPA and NHTSA’s rollbacks violate the statutory text and congressional mandates they are bound by; and
  • The EPA and NHTSA improperly and unlawfully relied on an analysis riddled with errors, omissions, and unfounded assumptions in an attempt to justify their desired result.

San Francisco joins the states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia, the California Air Resources Board, the Cities of Los Angeles and New York, and the City and County of Denver in a coalition filing the lawsuit.

More information on the coalition’s efforts to defend our nation’s Clean Car Standards and California’s greenhouse gas emission and zero emission vehicle standards can be found at