In the ongoing sword fight between California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the Trump administration over higher vehicle emissions standards, Becerra’s latest parry is the filing of a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Against the background of the Pacific Ocean on Santa Barbara’s Mesa, Becerra, standing with Assemblymember Monique Limón, announced today that California, 23 other states, Los Angeles, and Manhattan had joined to sue for the right to implement California’s greenhouse-gas and zero-emission vehicle standards, which the Trump administration has been working to weaken.
Auto giants Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW had made a pact in July with California — one of the largest auto markets in the United States —to observe the cleaner air standards the state required, the Washington Post reported. But under pressure from President Trump, whose Justice Department began an antitrust investigation against some automakers, according to the New York Times, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota announced in late October they would side with the feds on fuel economy standards.
Becerra gestured to the ocean behind him as he spoke, citing the oil spill 50 years ago that prompted President Richard Nixon to say it had “touched the conscience of the American people” when he first set up the EPA and signed the Clean Air Act, which gives California the right to set stringent pollution standards.
“Their conscience is AWOL,” said Becerra on Friday. “The EPA has forgotten its mission.”
Trump’s attempt to rob California of its authority to set greenhouse standards, Becerra said, would cost its citizens “our health and our environment,” reminding the small gathering of the smog-choked skies of the 1970s. “We cannot afford to backslide in the battle against climate change.”
Limón spoke briefly, saying the community had seen firsthand in past decades the result of not protecting the environment. Environmental laws worked to keep hundreds of tons of pollutants out of the air, she added. It wasn’t just clean air standards they were fighting for, Limón said, “It’s the ability to breathe clean air.”