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Judge rejects California Challenge for changing US emissions standards



A panel of federal judges threw out a legal challenge from California and several other states that want to maintain tougher vehicle emissions standards, a victory for the White House, though the judges warned the administration that they can't ignore facts as it develops the new standards.

In a U.S. District Court decision Friday in Washington, the judges said it was too early to determine the content of the legal battle: The US Environmental Protection Agency has not gotten far enough in the rewrite process. for them to rule, they said.

The decision, while an EPA victory, contained a warning to the Trump administration that agency officials will need to ensure that changes to EPA rules cannot disregard evidence gathered by the Obama administration in support of tougher standards .

Federal regulators who change the standard "will need to provide a" reasoned explanation "as to why it is" to disregard facts and circumstances that roll or were induced by standards for the years 2022-2025 when they were set in 201

2, " said the order.

An EPA spokeswoman said the agency was reviewing the decision.

"We said we would fight this illegal, regressive proposal every step of the way. We meant it, "California Attorney General

Xavier Becerra

it said in an email.

The order followed a legal action brought by California and several other states that in May 2018 asked appeals court judges to review the Trump administration's move toward changing emissions standards.

The Federal Federal Air Act encourages EPA officials to set an acceptable level of air pollution that new vehicles are allowed to emit. The Obama administration set new guidelines, with standards becoming tougher to achieve through the mid-2020s. The rules were agreed by most car manufacturers, provided they would be visited at a later date.

The industry has since complained that the review process, which was completed eight days before President Trump took office, was rushed and asked the Trump administration to relax the Obama standards.

In March 2017, Trump told automakers he wanted to look at emissions standards. EPA officials later took steps to withdraw them, prompting the legal challenge from California and more than a dozen other states. Their challenge was that the agency violated procedural requirements.

Friday's ruling rejected the legal challenge. In the order, the judges said that federal regulators have not proceeded to a "final action" under the Clean Air Act, and that only those kinds of actions are legally permissible.

Auto Alliance, one of two industry groups to intervene in the case, said it was grateful the lawsuit was dismissed.

The previous evaluation "was politicized by the previous administration and concluded early and abruptly and neglected to gather updated information or input from the Department of Transport," Gloria Bergquist, the group's spokeswoman wrote in an email.

Write to Katy Stech Ferek at katherine.stech@wsj.com and Ben Foldy at Ben.Foldy@wsj.com

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