Twenty-one Democratic AGs file motion to intervene in California emissions lawsuit

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Democratic attorneys general from 20 states and the District of Columbia on Thursday filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit from Republican attorneys general against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over California’s vehicle emissions standards.

The Democrats, led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, filed the motion in defense of the state’s standards, which are stricter than federal standards.

The Trump administration had in 2019 revoked a 2013 waiver allowing the state to impose more stringent standards than the federal government, but EPA Administrator Michael Regan reversed the revocation in March after announcing in 2021 that the EPA would review the decision.

“California’s standards are some of the best tools we have to reduce emissions, fight climate change, and protect public health. But unfortunately, there are some who continue to ignore these benefits, choosing inexplicably to defend outdated, pollution-generating vehicles even as technologies enabling emissions reductions and cost savings continue to advance,” Bonta said in a statement Thursday.

“My office has defended California’s authority to set its own vehicle emissions standards from an onslaught of attacks in recent years, and we’re not going to back down now,” he said.

Bonta filed the motion Thursday afternoon in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

He was joined by the attorneys general for Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and the cities of New York and Los Angeles.

Last week, 17 Republican attorneys general, led by Ohio’s Dave Yost, announced a lawsuit against the EPA over the restoration of the waiver, claiming that allowing the state to set its own standards under the Clean Air Act violated the doctrine of equal sovereignty.

In an interview with The Hill, Yost said Bonta’s statement “has it backwards.”

“This question is about whether California gets to run Ohio and the rest of the country and the Constitution clearly says they do not,” he said.

–Updated at 1:55 p.m.

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