California sues over Trump halt to truck pollution rule

FILE -- In this June 19, 2008, file photo a truck drives past Mount Shasta near Weed, Calif. California and 14 other states are suing the Trump administration over its decision to suspend an Obama-era rule aimed at limiting pollution from trucks. The lawsuit filed Thursday, July 19, 2018, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit says the July 6 decision by the Environmental Protection Agency was illegal and could put thousands of additional highly polluting trucks on the roads. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SAN FRANCISCO — California and 14 other states sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Thursday over its decision to suspend an Obama-era rule aimed at limiting pollution from trucks.

The July 6 decision by the Trump EPA was illegal and could put thousands of additional highly polluting trucks on the roads, the states and the District of Columbia said in the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The EPA said it does not comment on pending litigation.

The rule at issue limited production of heavy-duty freight trucks outfitted with older engines that don't meet today's emissions standards.

An EPA official said in a memo that the suspension was in the public interest to avoid disruption to small businesses that make the trucks.

Former EPA Chief Scott Pruitt had called the Obama administration's ban on the dirtier truck engines an example of regulatory overreach that "threatened to put an entire industry of specialized truck manufacturers out of business."

The Obama administration said pollution from the retrofitted trucks could lead to 1,600 early deaths each year.

"As EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt's job was to act as out country's chief environmental prosecutor," California's attorney general, Democrat Xavier Becerra, said in a statement. "At every turn — even until the bitter end — he failed to carry out this important duty and instead put the profits of major polluters above the health of our families."

The D.C. appeals court has already blocked the suspension of the rule temporarily in a separate lawsuit filed by environmental groups, according to Becerra.

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