Tail pipe tussle: Maryland to fight Trump administration over emissions standards

A waiver allowing California to set tough emissions standards for cars and trucks is being revoked by President Donald Trump’s administration, and Maryland is planning to sue over it.

That’s because Maryland — along with a dozen other states and D.C. — mirrors California’s rules, which are stricter than the federal government’s.

“What the Clean Air Act says is California can set its own standards, and other states can adopt those standards or the federal standards,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “We’ve adopted California’s standards because it makes our air cleaner, and because it helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Maryland’s Clean Cars Program, which is dependent on those tougher standards, was adopted in 2007. The rules took effect with 2011 model year vehicles.

D.C. adopted California’s standards in 2008, and its rules became effective with 2012 model year cars and trucks.

Frosh calls the Trump administration’s move dangerous.

“It will cause more pollution in Maryland, especially in the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas; and it will cause more greenhouse gas emissions all over the United States,” he said.

Frosh said he contacted Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan about the issue months ago.

“I wrote to the governor last May and told him under the Maryland Defense Act that I was intending to file suit when and if the Trump administration did something to undermine California’s ability to issue these regulations. And last week, we got a letter from him saying finally that he’s on board, as well,” Frosh said.

In his Sept. 10 letter to Frosh, Hogan directed him to take immediate action on behalf of Maryland and its department of the environment to challenge the Trump administration’s actions that Hogan said will “harm the environment and weaken states’ rights,” as well as affect the progress Maryland has made on air and water quality.

Frosh expects to be able to say more about the suit in the coming days.

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