Trump Legal War With California Escalates Over Land, Air

(Bloomberg) -- As the Trump administration went to court to void a California law obstructing the sale of federal land, the state was threatening to sue the U.S. if it waters down automobile fuel-efficiency standards.

Monday’s legal salvos were the latest in a series of showdowns over numerous U.S. initiatives, particularly on immigration and the environment, that clash with California’s more liberal policies.

The U.S. Justice Department alleged that a California law that gives the state the right of first refusal on sales of federal parcels is unconstitutional and has so far delayed transactions involving land controlled by the Postal Service, the Navy and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The law “creates a cloud on record and marketable title and, as a result, creates uncertainty, the significant potential for litigation and other expenditures of resources, and other burdens for the United States and those with whom it deals," according to the complaint.

Meanwhile, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, took aim at plans announced by the Environmental Protection Agency to cut fuel-efficiency regulations for cars and light trucks. The EPA also said it was considering whether to revoke the waiver that allows California to set its own emissions rules that are tougher than the federal standards.

"The Trump Administration’s assault on clean car standards risks our ability to protect our children’s health, tackle climate change, and save hardworking Americans money," Becerra said in a statement.

California would be ready to file a lawsuit if needed to protect its greenhouse gas emission standards, according to Becerra. In a separate statement, Becerra said the state’s public lands shouldn’t be on the auction block to the highest bidder.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued his own statement saying the U.S. is “forced to spend our resources to bring these lawsuits against states like California that believe they are above the law.”

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