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California and 17 other states have banded together to sue the EPA

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading the charge against EPA boss Scott Pruitt's decision to relax emissions and fuel economy standards.

The last few months have proved to be tense with the standoff between the state of California and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt. Recently, Pruitt decreed that his agency would not uphold the Obama-era vehicle fuel economy standards.

At that time, it was made clear that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was prepared to sue the EPA force it to retain the stricter standards outlined in 2011. Now, California and 17 other states which together make up 40 percent of automobile purchases in the US are banding together to sue the EPA.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that the state would be moving forward with its planned lawsuit against the EPA.

Stephen Lam/Getty Images

"The states joining today's lawsuit represent 140 million people who simply want cleaner and more efficient cars," said California Governor Jerry Brown, in a statement. "This phalanx of states will defend the nation's clean car standards to boost gas mileage and curb toxic air pollution."

Pruitt has said that he believes the standards to be counterproductive for the American auto industry and that it has led to manufacturers developing cars that people don't want and won't buy to meet emissions and fuel economy targets.

"Enough is enough," said Xavier Becerra, California state attorney general. "We're not looking to pick a fight with the Trump administration, but when the stakes are this high for our families' health and our economic prosperity, we have a responsibility to do what is necessary to defend them."

Pruitt has also expressed interest in revoking the so-called California Waiver, which allows the state to set emissions standards above and beyond that of the federal government. Currently, California is the only state able to do this, but since 2010 it has worked with the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to adopt one standard for the entire country.

Scott Pruitt is behind a decision that has led 18 states to sue the EPA to stop it from relaxing emissions standards.

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Pruitt's proposal to revoke California's right to set its own targets has come under fire from the public as well as members of the Senate, in particular, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, who, according to the Los Angeles Times, acquired a copy of the proposal and sent a reprimand to Pruitt.

"Such a proposal, if finalized, would harm U.S. national and economic security, undermine efforts to combat global warming pollution, create regulatory and manufacturing uncertainty for the automobile industry and unnecessary litigation, increase the number of gasoline consumers would have to buy, and runs counter to statements that both of you have made to Members of Congress," said Sen. Carper in a letter to Pruitt and Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

If the lawsuit goes through, it will represent one of the largest official challenges yet to policy set by the current presidential administration.