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Oil

Environmental groups sue US EPA over California's revoked fuel economy waiver

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Environmental groups sue US EPA over California's revoked fuel economy waiver

Highlights

Nevada governor pledges tougher fuel economy targets

EPA has yet to issue final rollback of Obama-era standards

Washington — A total of 11 environmental groups Friday sued the US Environmental Protection Agency for revoking California's waiver to set tougher-than-federal fuel economy targets, a decision that has created uncertainty for automakers and magnified political division over climate change ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Separately on Friday, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said the state would adopt tougher fuel economy standards to combat climate change.

"We must try," he said at a press conference that was webcast. "There's too much on the line for Nevada to ignore this problem any longer."

The move would make Nevada the 14th state to follow California's targets. Colorado and Minnesota also signed on this year.

The Trump administration in September formally revoked California's waiver to set stricter fuel economy targets. A day later, 23 states, New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington DC sued to challenge the revocation in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

EPA has yet to adopt a related rule rolling back the Obama administration's clean car standards.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has said the final rule would not be exactly the same as the agency's proposal in August 2018 to freeze fuel economy targets over 2022-25, a policy that would increase US oil demand by an estimated 500,000 b/d.

Four top automakers reached a "voluntary framework" with California in July to cut tailpipe emissions annually through 2026 model-year vehicles, delivering the same greenhouse gas reductions as the existing Obama-era standards in five years instead of four.

The Trump administration has gone after that agreement, threatening legal action against the California Air Resources Board.

CARB Chair Mary Nichols said in September that California would fight the waiver revocation and win in court.

--Meghan Gordon, meghan.gordon@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jim Levesque, jim.levesque@spglobal.com