Epic fight over diesel pollution and California’s future clean air authority

Governor Jerry Brown swore last December that if the federal government stopped collecting crucial climate data, the Golden State would launch its own satellite. Repeatedly since then California leaders have vowed to continue their pursuit of clean air and climate progress, no matter how the Trump administration proceeds.

The state has long cut a separate path from the federal government, enacting stricter rules to clean up the noxious air many residents still breathe. Many of those rules focus on cars and trucks, because vehicles are California’s largest source of air pollution.

But one asphalt paving contractor, together with trucking and construction groups, has quietly pursued a sweeping challenge to California’s authority to lead. Oral argument in the lawsuit, which was filed in 2013, is set for next month before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the changeover in Washington could strengthen the plaintiffs’ hand.

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