Environmental Protection

California v. EPA

California v. EPA involved California’s challenge to the EPA for its decision to block California’s auto emissions standards by refusing to grant the state a waiver of federal preemption under the Clean Air Act.

Case Summary

CAC filed a brief in California v. EPA on November 24, 2008 in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on behalf of a coalition of prominent State and local government organizations to support California’s efforts to enforce its first-in-the-nation greenhouse gas emissions standards for automobiles. California v. EPA was filed after the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blocked California’s auto emissions standards by refusing to grant the State a waiver of federal preemption under the Clean Air Act. The briefs filed by and on behalf of California provide a compelling basis for the court to invalidate EPA’s decision and for President Obama to reconsider the waiver denial.

As CAC’s brief demonstrates, the EPA Administrator’s reasons for blocking California’s emissions program are contrary to the text of the Clean Air Act, congressional intent, and the Supreme Court’s “presumption against preemption,” which requires that federal statutes be read to allow for state regulation unless Congress expresses its intent to preempt state law pursuant to the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Indeed, as California’s brief chronicles, EPA’s own legal and technical staff unanimously recommended that the waiver be granted.

After the election of President Obama in 2008, the EPA reconsidered the decision challenged in California v. EPA, and issued a new decision granting the waiver of federal preemption requested by the State of California and supported by CAC. In light of this new decision by the EPA, on September 3, 2009, the D.C. Circuit granted the parties’ joint motion to voluntarily dismiss the petitions for review.

Case Timeline

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