NJ Signs on to Multistate Lawsuit to Preserve Tough Fuel-Economy Standards

The state’s transportation sector is the largest source of carbon pollution in the state, accounting for approximately 42 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions

New Jersey has joined California and another 15 states in trying to block the Trump administration from undermining tough new fuel-economy standards to curb climate-changing emissions from vehicles.

The lawsuit is the latest Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has joined to challenge actions taken by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to roll back programs to curb greenhouse-gas emissions in the transportation sector.

A petition for review filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit contests a recently announced decision by the EPA to begin cutting back on 2011 fuel economy standards.

Those standards, enacted in the final days of the Obama administration, were projected to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 50 percent and reduce fuel consumption by 40 percent by 2025.

Like many other states in the Northeast, the transportation sector is the largest source of carbon pollution in the state, accounting for approximately 42 percent of its greenhouse-gas emissions contributing to climate change.

Earlier this month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he found the current standards “inappropriate,’’ triggering a new rulemaking process. The Trump administration is calling the standards too stringent, seeking to freeze them at 2021 levels, much lower than what had been proposed.

“I oppose in the strongest terms EPA’s ill-conceived and dangerous decision to roll back a landmark agreement to combat climate change,’’ Grewal said. “As EPA itself noted in 2016, New Jersey’s climate is changing due greenhouse-gas pollution, which increase the potential for more life-threatening storms like Superstorm Sandy.’’

Fighting climate change is particularly vital for a coastal state like New Jersey, according to acting commissioner Catherine McCabe of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, agreed. “The weakening of vehicle efficiency standards will directly impact public health in New Jersey,’’ according to Tittel.

Since the start of the Murphy administration, the state has joined several lawsuits seeking to stop the Trump administration from rolling back tougher pollution standards for automobiles, as well as an effort to bolster the sale of zero-emission vehicles.