WA and Other States Join California on Path to Clean Cars, Court Reverses Trump-Era Offshore Drilling Leases, Judge Upholds $14 Million Exxon Pollution Fine 

by | Sep 5, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

WA and Other States Join California on Path to Clean Cars, Court Reverses Trump-Era Offshore Drilling Leases, Judge Upholds $14 Million Exxon Pollution Fine 



We can now call Washington state a copycat because it will follow California and prohibit the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035, that according to Jay Inslee, the state governor. California regulators on Thursday moved forward with a landmark plan to phase out the sale of gas cars over the next 13 years in the US’s largest auto market.

The new policy requires 100% of new sales of passenger cars, trucks and SUVs in the state to be powered by electricity or hydrogen by 2035, with one-fifth allowed to be plug-in hybrids. The specific regulations for Washington state are yet to be created and the public will have the chance to weigh in, the Seattle Times reported.

Washington State is not the only one. Other states ride shotgun with california to rev up clean cars rules. Nearly one-third of states are poised to adopt California’s new clean cars rule to fully phase out new gas-powered vehicle sales by 2035.

The change could have a sweeping impact on the 17 states signed onto California’s vehicle standards and the car market across the country. In total, those states make up roughly 40% of nationwide auto sales. California and its followers still need a waiver under the Clean Air Act from the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out the new regulation, know as Advanced Clean Cars II.

Already, officials from states including  Oregon, and Vermont expressed plans to adopt the California standard by the end of the year. New York indicated in a meeting ahead of California’s adoption vote that it aims to follow. Massachusetts and Virginia—with trigger laws on the books that bind the states to California’s vehicle rules—also are set to join. And if I have to point out to you why this matters to us, it may be because you can’t see the point through all the smog in your city.

DEEPER DIVE: FlipBoard,  Seattle Times, WA Senate Bill



A federal appeals court recently partly reversed a judge’s order upholding a Trump-era environmental analysis of two offshore oil and gas lease sales spanning more than 150 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico.

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the National Environmental Policy Act review for Lease Sales 250 and 251 comes after environmental groups previously failed to convince a lower bench that the Interior Department’s analysis was inadequate. On appeal, the D.C. Circuit found one shortcoming with Interior’s environmental impact statement for the sales but otherwise found the agency had complied with federal law. Trump appointee Judge Gregory Katsas wrote the opinion for the court.

Earthjustice senior attorney Chris Eaton called the decision a win for communities on the Gulf Coast.

“The court’s decision reaffirms that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is failing to consider the full effects of these sales and should send a strong message to the administration and the oil and gas industry that the time to transition to clean energy and away from offshore drilling is now,” Eaton said in a statement.

The ruling partly reverses a 2020 decision by Senior Judge Reggie Walton, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and sends the case back for further consideration by Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The D.C. Circuit largely agreed with Walton but did find that the Trump administration had failed to take into account a Government Accountability Office report detailing failures of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to update its policies and develop criteria for upholding its rules.

DEEPER DIVE E&E News, States by Size



A federal judge this week rejected a third appeal by ExxonMobil in the 12-year legal battle over toxic emissions from one of the Texas-based energy giant’s Gulf Coast facilities. A split appellate court on Tuesday upheld by a 2-1 vote a $14 million penalty against Exxon Mobil for Clean Air Act violations at its Baytown, Texas, facility. The penalty is the largest ever to stem from a citizen lawsuit under the Clean Air Act.

But the dissenting judge called for an en banc appeal that, if successful, could significantly reduce the oil giant’s liability and make it harder to hold emitters accountable for permit violations.

In the majority ruling, Judge Gregg Costa, an Obama appointee, joined by W. Eugene Davis, a Reagan appointee, rejected Exxon’s arguments that the trial judge failed to show his work in determining that 3,651 days of violations could be traced to injuries and thus subject to penalties.

“The district court’s 10-page traceability analysis was thorough and sufficiently explained,” Costa wrote. He also rejected Exxon’s arguments that the $14.25 million fine was an abuse of discretion. “The district court’s penalty determination was well within its wide discretion,” Costa wrote.

Why does this matter to us? Environmental attorney David A. Nicholas said it best, “The Court of Appeals decision thoroughly discredited Exxon’s attempts to worm out of responsibility for thousands of Clean Air Act violations. The decision affirms that citizens can hold even the biggest, deepest-pocketed polluters to account for violating environmental laws.”

DEEPER DIVE: ICNHouston Public Media