Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Texas leads multi-state legal challenge against EPA over higher fuel-efficiency standards

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Texas and 14 other states launched a legal challenge Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules to increase vehicle fuel-efficiency standards.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who led the challenge, said the EPA’s decision to impose stricter regulations to reduce vehicle emissions was a declaration of war against oil and gas at a critical moment in energy consumption both at home and abroad.

“At a time when American gas prices are skyrocketing at the pump, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict shows again the absolute need for energy independence, Biden chooses to go to war against fossil fuels,” Mr. Paxton said in a statement. “These severe new rules proposed by the EPA are not only unnecessary, but they will create a deliberate disadvantage to Texas and all states who are involved in the production of oil and gas.”

The states filed a petition for review of the rule with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

With President Biden’s climate change agenda stalled in Congress, the EPA took action in December to increase fuel-efficiency standards for future vehicles to the highest levels yet. The new rule requires the average fleetwide standard for passenger cars and light trucks to be 40 mpg by 2026. By comparison, the Trump administration had a 32-mpg target while the Obama administration’s was 36 mpg.

Mr. Paxton’s office said the stringent EPA regulations sought to “micromanage” gas emissions and exceeded the agency’s authority in violation of the Constitution’s separation-of-powers principles.

“The new rule seeks to promote the Biden administration’s radical climate change agenda by promoting electric vehicle usage over other, superior means of transportation that use abundant fossil fuels,” Mr. Paxton’s office said. “If left in place, the regulations will impose major economic harms on Texas by stressing its electric grid and decreasing the need for gasoline by billions of gallons, effectively destroying Texas’s robust energy industry.”

The EPA declined to comment because it was pending litigation. 

The EPA has previously stated that the new rule would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by billions of tons by 2050. Transportation accounted for 35% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. in 2019, according to the EPA. 

The new standards would also save drivers hundreds of billions of dollars in gas, the EPA has said. 

In a separate but related legal case, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday regarding a lawsuit seeking to prevent the Biden administration from unilaterally implementing new environmental policies without the approval of Congress.

The multi-state legal challenge against the EPA and the Supreme Court case came the same day that the United Nations released its latest climate change assessment. The grim report warned of “irreversible” impacts from global warming if sweeping action around the globe is not immediately taken.



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