Under current law the state can set tougher tailpipe rules than the EPA and other states can adopt California's guideline, something that could effectively require automakers to stick with the current CAFE rules.
Today's lawsuit was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The Environmental Protection Agency last month moved to scrap the standards for cars and "light duty" trucks to be sold in model years 2022-2025.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who joined Brown at the Capitol to announce the legal challenge, said the existing clean auto standards are achievable, science-based and "a boon for hardworking American families".
After some 44 years of increasing demands for miles per gallon, the Trump Administration and EPA are rolling back what are called CAFE standards, because the most recent goals are deemed unreachable by many auto makers. CARB also affirmed the standards were appropriate and that the federal government should continue to support a single national program for all states.
New York, Illinois, Washington, Massachusetts, Iowa, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, other states and the District of Columbia are among those suing. The attorney general then criticized the EPA and, its administrator, Scott Pruitt for refusing to do their job. Without going into detail, the first ten years could be considered a disaster when it came to small and medium cars (The Chrysler K vehicle ring a bell?).
The Trump administration has drafted a proposal that would freeze the federal standards at 2021 levels, leaving them well below levels targeted under former President Barack Obama.
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New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the "Trump administration conducted a phony study" to justify less rigid emission rules.
This lawsuit follows nine other suits California has filed against the EPA previously, Becerra said.
California is leading the lawsuit challenging the EPA's decision to rescind the regulations.
During his tenure as Oklahoma's AG, Pruitt sued the EPA several times claiming the agency had overstepped its bounds.
"Such a proposal, if finalized, would harm US national and economic security, undermine efforts to combat global warming pollution, create regulatory and manufacturing uncertainty for the automobile industry and unnecessary litigation, increase the number of gasoline consumers would have to buy, and runs counter to statements that both of you have made to Members of Congress", said Sen.
At the press briefing, Brown did not hold back - he referred to Pruitt as "outlaw Pruitt", accusing the EPA chief of "running roughshod" over the health of the American people and the climate by seeking to implement standards that would weaken the rules already on the books.
The challenge marks California's 10th lawsuit against EPA and its 32nd against the Trump administration.