California's attorney general files lawsuit against EPA and NHTSA, report says

California continues to strenuously push back against the federal government's efforts to curb fuel economy standards.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
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California's State Attorney General giving the camera is his best, "Come at me," face.

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California is a powerful state. With an economy larger than most countries, it can do things that other states wouldn't dream of. Specifically, California is able to set its own emissions and economy standards for cars as long as they're more strict than those set at the federal level.

The Trump administration hasn't historically been a fan of this, as evidenced by its multiple attempts to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards despite protests from numerous states and even some automakers.

California has fought the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the White House every step of the way, and now California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is suing those agencies for not releasing information, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

The California Attorney General's Office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

California filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents that would support claims made by the EPA and NHTSA used to justify their emissions rollbacks. The agencies never responded, and now they're being sued by the state with the world's fifth-largest economy.

"The public has a right to see all the facts and analysis used to support a rollback that increases oil consumption, hurts consumers, and pumps more air pollution and hundreds of million tons of climate-changing gases into the atmosphere," Mary Nichols, chairperson of the California Air Resources Board, said in a statement.

Part of the state's tenacity likely stems from the Trump administration's move to strip California of its waiver that grants it the unique ability to set its own emissions standards. This would not only affect California but the 14 other states -- and the District of Columbia -- that adopted those standards.

It's unclear just how far this escalating war over fuel economy will go, given the immense resources of both parties involved. What is clear is that successfully stopping California would be a big win for the White House and a severe setback for the environment.

Neither NHTSA nor the EPA immediately responded to requests for comment.

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