LOS ANGELES (CN) - The Bush administration responded to a court order directing it to increase fuel efficiency standards by slipping a hidden attack on California's tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions rules into the new federal plan, according to Attorney General Jerry Brown.
Brown sued the administration last year over its call for a paltry increase in fuel efficiency for light trucks - 1 additional mile per gallon, from 22 to 23, by 2010.
The Energy Independence and Security Act had forced the administration to establish some sort of fuel efficiency increase.
Brown prevailed at the 9th Circuit, where Judge Betty Fletcher ordered the government to comply with the EISA by creating a plan that sets a more reasonable goal to increase gas mileage standards.
The administration's new plan shoots for 31.6 miles per gallon by 2015, which is less than California's goal of 36 miles per gallon by 2016.
Brown says page 378 of the federal plan contains an attack on California's tougher environmental protections: "a state regulation regulating tailpipe fuel economy standards, any state regulation regulating tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles is expressly preempted," the plan states.
Brown says that violates the Supreme Court's ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, where the court found that state greenhouse gas regulations are separate from gas mileage standards. States are allowed to develop standards that are more stringent than the federal rules with permission from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA, not the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is the agency responsible for regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
Brown says the new plan also goes violates the EISA. That act was not intended to do anything that "supersedes, limits the authority provided or responsibility conferred by, or authorized any violation of any provision of law (including a regulation), including any energy or environmental law or regulation," Brown said.