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.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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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?

  • ToolGuy "Mr. President, no government agency, no think tank, and no polling firm knows more about the automobile customer than us. We talk to customers every day. As retail automotive dealerships, we are agnostic as to what we sell. Our business is to provide customers with vehicles that meet the needs of their budgets and lifestyles.”• How many lies can you fit into one paragraph?
  • Spamvw Three on the tree, even Generation X would have a hard time stealing one of those.
  • ToolGuy This trend of cyan wheels needs to end NOW.
  • Kwik_Shift Interesting nugget(s) of EV follies.
  • SaulTigh I've said it before and I'll say it again...if you really cared about the environment you'd be encouraging everyone to drive a standard hybrid. Mature and reliable technology that uses less resources yet can still be conveniently driven cross country and use existing infrastructure.These young people have no concept of how far we've come. Cars were dirty, stinking things when I was a kid. They've never been cleaner. You hardly ever see a car smoking out the tail pipe or smell it running rich these days, even the most clapped out 20 year old POS. Hybrids are even cleaner.