California, New York and three other states are suing the Trump administration for illegally delaying penalties for vehicles that do not meet new fuel-efficiency standards.
These new standards were agreed to last year and were set to be implemented this July, however, the Trump administration has delayed the stricter fines and reverted to the lower penalty rate instead.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading the suit against the Trump administration's decision, alongside attorney generals from New York, Vermont, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
"President Trump claims to support law and order, yet his Administration routinely ignores laws when it doesn't like them. We're still a nation of laws. No one, not even the President, is above the law," said Becerra.
"More fuel-efficient cars on our roads means cleaner air, better overall health for our children, and savings at the pump for consumers. We will hold the Trump Administration accountable, especially for clear violations of the law that harm Californians."
In 2015, Congress decided penalty rates for vehicles that don't meet fuel-efficiency standards should increase with inflation. In response, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a new rule last December that more than doubled penalty rates, increasing the rate from $5.50 per tenth of a mile per gallon to $14 per tenth of a mile per gallon.
Many manufacturers warned that vehicle prices would skyrocket and threatened a million automative jobs could be lost if the new rule was enacted. In March, President Trump heard their plea and ordered a review of the fuel-efficiency standards that were put in place by the Obama administration.
"My administration will work tirelessly to eliminate the industry-killing regulations," Trump promised.
Environmentalists have condemned the decision and have pointed to the devastating effects that 'gas-guzzling' vehicles have on climate change and air pollution.
"If they succeed, we'll pay more at the pump, depend more on oil from bad countries, drive up the trade deficit and pollute our kids," said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign.
But despite their worries, in July, NHTSA had indefinitely delayed the date of the increased penalty.
In response, five states have now filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, claiming the obstruction of these penalty rates is illegal for two reasons. Firstly, because NHTSA acted without notice or comment, which violates the Administrative Procedures Act. And secondly, because NHTSA reinstated the old penalty rate, which violates the 2015 Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act.
Other environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity have also challenged NHTSA's delay.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says the lawsuit sends a loud message to the administration:
"State attorneys general have made clear: we won't hesitate to act when those we serve are put at risk."