California leads 17 states suing EPA to protect car emission standards

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The state of California led a coalition of 17 states today in suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Administrator Scott Pruitt to challenge a plan to roll back national vehicle emission standards.

The lawsuit by 17 states and the District of Columbia was filed in a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. 

The standards established in 2012 apply to greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks and were slated to go into effect for new car models between 2022 and 2025.

The standards are aimed at cleaner air and improved gas mileage. They would reduce carbon pollution by an amount equivalent to 134 coal power plants burning for a year and would save drivers $1,650 per vehicle, according to California Gov. Jerry Brown.

This spring, the EPA announced the standards were "not appropriate" because they would be burdensome to automakers and expensive for consumers. The agency began a rule-making process to revise the standards.

Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who announced the lawsuit at a news conference in Sacramento, said the coalition of 17 states represents 43 percent of the new-car-buying public and 44 percent of the nation's population.

Brown said in a statement, "The states joining today's lawsuit represent 140 million people who simply want cleaner and more efficient cars."

Becerra said the standards set in 2012 are "achievable, science-based and a boon for hardworking American families."