States Sue Trump Administration over Fuel Economy Rollbacks

(Photo Credit: Austin Poon, Unsplash)

by | May 29, 2020

States Sue Trump Administration over Fuel Economy Rollbacks

(Photo Credit: Austin Poon, Unsplash)

Attorneys general from 23 states are suing the Trump administration over its final rule rolling back fuel economy standards. The District of Columbia, the California Air Resources Board, four cities, and two counties also joined the lawsuit filed Wednesday.

At issue is a rule that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation released in April. Called the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) vehicles rule, it applies to model years 2021-2026 for passenger cars and light trucks. The Trump Administration’s final rule rolled back Obama-era corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and CO2 emissions standards, creating divisions in the auto industry and setting the stage for a legal battle.

This week a multi-state coalition did sue. “The underpinnings for the Trump administration’s so-called ‘SAFE’ rule are crumbling before the rule even hits the road,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. “It will increase costs to consumers and allow the emission of dangerous pollutants that directly threaten the health of our families.”

Becerra is joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. CARB, the cities of Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco as well as the counties of San Francisco and Denver are participating as well.

In the lawsuit, the coalition argues that the EPA and NHTSA’s final rule is unlawful because they “violate the statutory text and congressional mandates they are bound by; and the EPA and NHTSA improperly and unlawfully relied on an analysis riddled with errors, omissions, and unfounded assumptions in an attempt to justify their desired result.”

Neither federal agency commented on the lawsuit, which was filed in the DC Circuit US Court of Appeals, according to Newsweek.

Hiroko Tabuchi wrote in the New York Times that even though Trump has said the rollback would help the auto industry, the industry remains split over the measure.

“[It] would weaken a 2012 standard that would have required automakers to improve the average fuel economy of cars and trucks to about 54 miles per gallon by 2025,” she noted. “The new standards set forth by the Trump administration only require automakers to improve their average fleetwide fuel economy to 40 miles per gallon.”

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