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MI AG Nessel Joins Lawsuit to Protect States' Rights; Opposes EPA's Attack on California's Advanced Clean Car Standards

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined 23 other Attorneys General and two cities late last week in filing a lawsuit opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to revoke the portions of a waiver it granted California in 2013 that permit the implementation of the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standards. The action, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is part of the coalition’s ongoing fight to protect California’s Advanced Clean Car Standards. These standards are followed – in whole or in part – by 13 other states and are a key part of state efforts to protect public health and the environment.

“Attempting to strip states’ of their rights to protect the environment seems to be a recurring theme for the current administration and while Michigan has not adopted California’s Advanced Clean Car Standards, I am joining California to fight against the Trump administration’s campaign to end that state’s longstanding authority to set its own vehicle emissions standards,” said Nessel. “This latest attack on states’ efforts to protect their residents and environment is an abuse of federal authority and should be opposed.”

The filing also includes a protective petition that asks the D.C. Circuit Court to review a separate regulation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is designed to preempt California’s GHG and ZEV standards.

On September 20, 2019, the coalition also filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that NHTSA’s preemption regulation is unlawful and should be vacated. The federal government has moved to dismiss that case on the grounds that it belongs in the D.C. Circuit Court, and briefing is ongoing. While the coalition maintains that the district court has jurisdiction in this challenge, in the event the court disagrees, the protective portion of last week’s petition preserves the coalition’s ability to challenge NHTSA’s preemption regulation.   

Nessel joins the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia; as well as the cities of New York and Los Angeles in the filing.

A copy of the filing is available here.

Despite not being mandated to provide information on the lawsuit to the Legislature, Nessel sent a letter to the House and Senate appropriations chairs advising them of Michigan’s participation in the suit and has offered to meet with them to provide additional information on the case and the state’s legal position. 

Several of the federal lawsuits Michigan has joined since January have had favorable decisions that halt disastrous policies from taking effect, including the lawsuit challenging the Public Charge Rule which would allow the federal government to revoke an immigrant’s legal status or even deport them if they use the public benefits they’re entitled to, and a lawsuit to block the Refusal of Care Rule which would allow any health care provider to refuse necessary, and often critical, health care services that conflict with their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”