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Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | Back issues
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9th Circuit Rejects Bush’s Mileage Standards For Light Trucks & SUVs

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The 9th Circuit has ruledthat the Bush administration'smethod ofsetting mileage standards forlight trucks and SUVs isarbitrary and capricious, in violation of environmental law.ruling

The circuit ordered the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration "to promulgate new standards as expeditiously as possible and to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement."

The 90-page ruling came in the consolidated cases of Center for Biological Diversity v NTHSA and the State of California and 10 other states v NHTSA, and four other cases. California Attorney General Jerry Brown called it a "stunning rebuke to the Bush administration and its failed energy policies." Brown criticized the administration's order of "a pathetic one mile per gallon increase, from 22 to 23 miles per gallon by 2010 ... (as) clearly unlawful."

Judge B. Fletcher found that the NHTSA's final rule on "Average Fuel Economy Standards for Light Trucks, Model Years 2008-2011," setting corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards violates the National Environmental Policy Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. He agreed with plaintiffs' arguments that "(a) the agency's cost-benefit analysis does not set the CAFE standard at the 'maximum feasible' level and fails to give due consideration to the need of the nation to conserve energy; (b) its calculation of the costs and benefits of alternative fuel economy standards assigns zero value to the benefit of carbon dioxide emissions reduction; (c) its calculation of costs and benefits of alternative fuel economy standards fails to evaluate properly the benefit of vehicle weight reduction; (d) reformed CAFE standards will depend on manufacturer fleet mix and not guarantee a minimum fuel economy or 'backstop'; (e) the transition period during which manufacturers may choose to comply with either unreformed or reformed CAFE is contrary to the 'maximum feasible' requirement and unnecessary; (f) it perpetuates the 'SUV loophole,' which allows SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks to satisfy a lower fuel economy standard than cars; and (g) it excludes most vehicles rated between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (comprised mostly of large pickup trucks) from any fuel economy regulation, even though these vehicles satisfy the statutory criteria for regulation."

See ruling.

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