Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Jun 9 2017

Ferguson pledges legal defense of EPA emissions standards

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today rebuked Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt’s criticism of the EPA’s review of vehicle emissions standards. Ferguson, joined by 12 attorneys general, sent Pruitt a letter rebutting his “completely unfounded” criticisms of the EPA’s review process.

The letter pledges legal action to defend the standards if necessary.

“The EPA conducted a legally sound review to reduce vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. These rules are critical to combating global climate change,” Ferguson said. “If the new administration unlawfully delays or weakens these standards, I will defend them in court.”

In 2012, the EPA worked with stakeholders, including the auto industry, to adopt a rule setting increasingly stringent standards for greenhouse gas emissions. These rules apply to cars and light-duty trucks from model years 2017 through 2025.

Over the lifetimes of the vehicles sold between 2017 and 2025, the standards are expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by two billion metric tons — the equivalent of the annual emissions of 422 million cars currently on the road — and save approximately 4 billion barrels of oil.

The EPA agreed to conduct a “mid-term evaluation” no later than April 2018 to ensure the requirements for model years 2022 through 2025 were achievable.

In a letter to California Governor Jerry Brown, Pruitt criticized this mid-term review process, alleging the EPA did not follow all the legal requirements.

Today’s letter from Ferguson and the attorneys general walks through the legal requirements, including extensive research and public comment periods, and details the steps the EPA took to adhere to those requirements.

“In light of these facts, your May 2 letter’s characterization that EPA ‘circumvented’ the required legal and scientific processes in its midterm evaluation is erroneous and inconsistent with your stated desire to ‘follow the letter of the law,’ ” the attorneys general write.

The letter concludes: “In sum, EPA’s midterm evaluation was lawful and fully supported by the record. And in light of the critical public health and environmental benefits the standards will deliver, if EPA acts to weaken or delay the current standards for model years 2022-25, we intend to vigorously pursue appropriate legal remedies to block such action.”


The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.


Brionna Aho, Interim Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov