Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and officials from a dozen other states are threatening to sue the federal government if it weakens emission standards for new cars and trucks.

The coalition is challenging a statement by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt that the process of setting emissions rules for cars and light-duty trucks to be released from 2022 to 2025 was flawed.

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"If you seek to roll back these important standards, we intend to pursue appropriate legal action to defend them in court," the officials wrote in a letter to Pruitt on Thursday.

Frosh signed the letter along with the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, and Pennsylvania's secretary of environmental protection.

The EPA adopted emissions standards for vehicle model years 2017-2025 in 2012, with plans to re-evaluate five years later. The agency decided in January to keep the rules in place.

But in March, Pruitt said the EPA would revisit that decision.

Pruitt said the standards "are costly for automakers and the American people." U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called the decision "a win for the American economy."

Frosh and the colleagues who signed the letter say the standards are needed to cut 540 million metric tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking 422 million cars off the road, and saving drivers $1,650 each in fuel economy.

If the EPA weakens or delays the rules, the state officials wrote, they "intend to vigorously pursue appropriate legal remedies to block such action."

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