May 2 (UPI) -- The Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency is setting itself up for a hard legal battle over fuel economy standards, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said.
California and a coalition of 17 other states and the District of Columbia sued the EPA in an effort to prevent a rollback of the federal emissions and economy standards. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement the lawsuit was not geared at starting a legal battle with President Donald Trump's administration, though Feinstein, D-Calif., was more succinct.
"If the administration continues down this path to weaken the fuel economy standards set in conjunction with California, they'll be inviting additional lawsuits," she said in a statement.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said former President Barack Obama erred when he called for an increase in fuel economy for all domestic vehicles to an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Pruitt said Obama's action was politically charged and standards "are not appropriate."
In response to the proposal, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the EPA launched an "attack" on improved greenhouse gas standards for automobiles. The state was ready early this year with lawsuits challenging the EPA's policy shift and Feinstein last week said the federal government "would provoke years of litigation" if it continued on its current path.
In her latest statement, Feinstein said the EPA ignored a 1,200-page analysis supporting the current standards.
California was authorized to implement its own rules and dozens of states have adopted those standards.
The average fuel economy during Obama's tenure was around 25 miles per gallon. The government estimated that switching from a vehicle that gets 20 mpg to one that gets 25 mpg decreases greenhouse gas emissions by about 1.7 tons per year.
The EPA had no comment on the lawsuit.
On Tuesday, in anticipation of warmer weather, the EPA issued an air-quality alert for New England states. To limit admissions, the EPA said it was recommending people carpool or use public transportation in order to reduce emissions.
The transportation sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
In early April, the National Automobile Dealers Association applauded the EPA's proposal, saying standards alone weren't enough to "maximize the number of cleaner, safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles we get on the road every year."