Appeals Court Says Trump Cannot Delay CAFE Penalties

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
appeals court says trump cannot delay cafe penalties

During the Trump administration’s year-long quest to roll back Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) targets, it attempted to give automakers in violation of the current standards a break by delaying the scheduled increase of penalties. The logic here is that the federal government is reassessing the Obama era standards, so it lumped in the new fines that were supposed to go into effect last July.

Those penalties represent an increase of $8.50 for every tenth of a mile per gallon a new car consumes above the minimum fuel standard. But with the new targets in quasi limbo, the updated fines were not being applied.

On Monday, a federal appeals court ruled the Department of Transportation cannot do that. Since the old rules are technically still in effect, the court ruled that automakers are still subject to the fine.

Plaintiffs included the State of New York, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Vermont — as well as the Sierra Club, National Resources Defense Council, and the Center for Biological Diversity. Those groups collectively filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA acting Deputy Administrator Jack Danielson, and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

“Americans will breathe easier because the court undid the Trump administration’s bizarre attempt to encourage toxic tailpipe pollution,” said Vera Pardee, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a press release following the court ruling. “Cheap fines incentivize automakers to produce gas-guzzlers that fuel climate change and spew harmful pollutants. Reinstating proper penalties will help protect our kids’ lungs and our planet’s future.”

A blog post from the National Resources Defense Council claimed the court’s decision restored what it considered the proper fines. “The updated penalty impels automakers to clean up their fleets, rather than offering them a cheap license to burn more gas if they fail to keep pace with fuel economy targets,” said the council’s Clean Energy Attorney, Irene Gutierrez.

Meanwhile, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the administration will continue to progress toward “more appropriate” fuel economy standards for the automotive industry. The new targets have not yet been set.

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  • X-defector X-defector on Apr 24, 2018

    For those who don't believe, or simply aren't sure, whether the new CAFE standard were an earnest attempt at controlling fossil fuel dependence and pollution, or merely a power play by the ubiquitous and iron-fisted federal government, I'll just leave this right here..... And of course this is to say nothing of motorcycles, scooters, and other two-wheeled motorized transport which are everywhere yet require no emissions controls whatsoever.

    • Charliej Charliej on Apr 24, 2018

      Too bad that you are not a biker. You would know that bikes do have catalytic converters now. Motorcycle emission control first started in 1978. There is a long history of emission control in motorcycles.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 24, 2018

    Coal Rollers should have their vehicles confiscated and destroyed.

    • Dynasty Dynasty on Apr 24, 2018

      So what you're saying is if someone rolls the coal, they should pay the toll?

  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.
  • Pickles69 They have a point. All things (or engines/propulsion) to all people. Yet, when the analogy of being, “a department store,” of options is used, I shudder. Department stores are failing faster than any other retail. Just something to chew on.