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US Court of Appeals Smacks Down NHTSA Attempt To Skip Gas Guzzler Fee Increase

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Back in September, we reported that three major environmental groups—the Center for Biological Diversity, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Sierra Club—had filed a lawsuit against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which in July had said it wouldn’t be implementing an Obama-era regulation that would more than double so-called “gas guzzler” fines, or penalties on automakers that don’t meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

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At the time, the senior counsel at the CBD, Vera Pardee, succinctly summed up the lawsuit, “Car companies churning out gas-guzzlers shouldn’t get to pay their way out of following rules that cut fuel consumption and protect our climate.”

It seems that the US court system would agree with that statement, as the second circuit of the US Court of Appeals (located in New York City) has found in favor of the environmental groups (plus the states of California, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont), restoring the formerly waved-away penalty.

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In a blog post, the NRDC trumpeted the victory, writing, “This ruling is a victory for consumers, our economic security, public health and the planet because the Trump administration’s illegal maneuvers to undercut needed fuel economy safeguards were thwarted. The Trump administration should be standing up for the public that overwhelmingly supports strong fuel economy standards and enforcing strong penalties on automakers that fail to meet those standards.”

The NRDC later enumerated other foiled attempts to cut rules on methane emissions and oil/gas lease royalty payments, promising that it would be ready to go back to court to fight other environmental standard reductions.

News Sources: NRDC, Jalopnik, US DOT, US Court of Appeals