May 5, 2006

Lawsuit challenges adequacy of CAFE reform

New York, New York – Attorney Generals from nine states and New York City Corporation Counsel have filed a lawsuit challenging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations’ (NHTSA) recent modifications to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks.

The lawsuit claims that the Bush administration has failed to address the effects of the new federal fuel economy standards for SUVs and light trucks on air quality, fuel conservation and global climate change. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the NHTSA failed to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which require the government to determine the effects of the new regulations on both fuel conservation and the environment.

In a comment letter, the plaintiffs allege that “NHTSA failed, in all respects, to consider the environmental consequences of its proposed overhaul of light truck standards, failed to consider the changes in the environment since its last Environmental Impact Statement in the 1980s, and failed to evaluate the impact of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions despite identifying the threat of CO2 and global climate change as new information concerning the environment.” In addition, the letter states that the standards, which shift the mile-per-gallon requirements from a fleet-wide basis to a new structure based on weight categories, “create incentives to build larger, less fuel-efficient models, which will jeopardize air quality and the climate.”

The lawsuit follows one from many of the same plaintiffs, charging that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to adopt strong emission standards to reduce air pollution from new power plants across the country.

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