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California sues EPA, NHTSA over data used for car emissions rollback

The agencies allegedly withheld data to keep their justifications a secret.
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David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

California has sued the EPA and NHTSA in a bid to get the data used to justify the Trump administration's rollback of vehicle emission standards. State Attorney General Xavier Becerra has accused the agencies of "willfully withholding" the data after they didn't respond to a Freedom of Information Act request for the material used to justify keeping 2020 emissions standards until the 2026 model year instead of raising them under former President Obama's plan.

The move would theoretically provide ammunition for lawsuits challenging the rollback, which would also nullify California's ability to set more stringent emissions rules. Another 12 states follow California's lead on tougher regulations.

Neither the EPA nor the NHTSA had responded to the lawsuit as of this writing, but it's expected that they'll fight the case. The rollback represents a significant part of the President's deregulatory push, and that push might fizzle out if there are significant flaws in the evidence. As it stands, lawsuits directly challenging the rollback could stave off its effect for a while, regardless of whether or not California obtains the justifications or wins its larger court battle.

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