State Attorneys General Sue Trump Administration Over CAFE Penalties

SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

The Attorneys General from New York, California, Vermont, Maryland and Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, challenging its decision to delay implementation of increased civil penalties for violations of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s “Corporate Average Fuel Economy” (CAFE) standards.

After the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “Cleaner air, better overall health for our children, and savings at the pump . . . we will hold the Trump administration accountable.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman added, “State attorneys general have made it clear: we won’t hesitate to act when those we serve are put at risk.”

The lawsuit comes in response to NHTSA’s decision this past July to delay indefinitely the effective date of the increased penalties rule while it reconsidered the increase.

The penalties were adjusted for inflation in 2016, but NHTSA determined it was appropriate to solicit additional input to determine if a revision to the adjustment was appropriate in response to a petition from the Auto Alliance Global Automakers.

Automakers have paid nearly $900 million in penalties because of violations, and the 2016 penalty adjustment augmented the rate from $5.50 to $14 per 0.1 per mile, which the auto groups contend would have a “negative economic impact.”

President Trump previously announced that the government would re-examine the federal fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks that currently require automakers to achieve a companywide vehicle fuel economy average of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg), or its equivalent, by 2025. The auto industry agreed to this 2025 mpg target with the Obama administration in 2012.

However, automakers have since been advocating for a change to the requirements and the penalties because they believe they could not be met with current technology and the cost of the vehicles would be unacceptably high to consumers.