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23 States Sue Trump Administration Over Revised Fuel Economy Regulations

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【Summary】California leads the lawsuit, which claims the Trump Administration’s decision to roll back fuel economy regulations violates numerous laws.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    May 30, 2020 6:05 AM PT
23 States Sue Trump Administration Over Revised Fuel Economy Regulations

The Trump Administration finds itself in the limelight, once again, over fuel economy regulations. Twenty-three states, four cities, and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit against the administration over its rollback of Obama-era fuel economy regulations. More specifically, the lawsuit has been brought against the current administration's latest Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles (SAFE) rule that went into effect this March.

SAFE Is The Big Issue

Before we get into the intricacies of the lawsuit, here's a quick recap on SAFE and how it came about. A few months ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced the final version of SAFE. In it, the two government organizations set new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and C02 emissions standard for vehicles from 2021 to 2026 model years. SAFE is drastically different from the standards that the Obama Administration proposed in 2012, calling for just a 1.5 percent annual increase in both respective standards through the 2026 model year. The Obama Administration proposed a 5 percent annual increase.

The logic behind the lower standards was based primarily in bringing down the cost of vehicles. The administration claimed that lowering the standards would decrease the average price of a new vehicle by $1,000. Regulatory costs would also decrease by as much a $100 billion through 2029. The government also believes that new vehicle sales will skyrocket, because of the more affordable pricing. Another bold claim, that really had no basis based on the changes that were being made, were in regard to safety, as the government stated that fewer crash fatalities and injuries would take place.

What The New Lawsuit Alleges

Now, the states, cities, and the nation's capital are suing the Trump Administration because they claim it violates the Clean Air Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The states also argue that the automotive industry was actually on track to meet the targets that the previous administration put in place before the Trump Administration ordered a review of the Clean Car Act in 2018.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra believes the government is incorrect with its beliefs on what SAFE will do for industry, consumers, and the environment. "(SAFE) will increase costs to consumers and allow the emission of dangerous pollutants that directly threaten the health of our families," said Becerra. "President Trump should have listened to his own scientists. America's Clean Car Standards were doing the job. We're going to court to defend them."

Furthermore, some believe that the current administration based their changes on faulty logic and science. California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols claimed the administration "used questionable science, faulty logic and ludicrous assumptions to justify what they wanted from the start: to gut and rewrite the single most important air regulation of the past decade," reports Reuters.

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