UCLA legal experts respond to rollback of Obama-era auto emissions standards

April 2, 2020

Experts from the UCLA Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment were quoted in several media stories about the Trump administration’s final roll back of Obama-era auto emissions standards on March 31, 2020.

Photo source: PIxabay

In an interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Ann Carlson (environmental law professor and co-director of the UCLA Emmett Institute) refuted the administration’s claim that the rollback of fuel standards would make newer vehicles more affordable, safe and better for the environment. She said that most fuel-efficient cars are cheaper for consumers and, “when you actually do the math, even if you pay a little more upfront, you save a lot more over the lifetime of the car.” 

The new regulations will impact the production of vehicles starting with the model year 2021, but Julia Stein (supervising attorney at the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic and project director at the UCLA Emmett Institute) told CalMatters that California’s fight to hold its vehicles to higher standards will not be resolved quickly. “It’s unlikely that these challenges will resolve this year, to say the least,” Stein said. “I think we will see the litigation on this rule continuing into the next presidency, whoever that may be.” 

Carlson noted that it is difficult to predict how the pandemic will affect the implementation and impending lawsuits challenging the administration’s actions. As COVID-19 shuts down transportation and other polluting industries, Carlson told Forbes that California’s enhanced air quality shows “what our air quality could be if we had completely clean vehicles in our fleet.” 

Trump to roll back Obama-era clean car rules in huge blow to climate fight The Guardian, 31 March 2020

California leaders slam Trump Administration’s new car rules as ‘deadly regulatory backsliding’ KQED, 31 March 2020

Emissions rule rollback critics gear up for court battles Law360, 31, March 2020

Several states, environmental groups vow to sue over car pollution rollback Scientific American/E&E News, 1 April 2020

Trump eases the way for more gas guzzlers WIRED, 1 April 2020