By on April 23, 2018

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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51 Comments on “Appeals Court Says Trump Cannot Delay CAFE Penalties...”


  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    Political commentary from a host of TTAC blowhards to commence in 3, 2, 1…

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Here’s a question for the B&B. How much influence does the physical ambience of the dealership have on your purchasing decision?

    I know some dealers. One installed a gym in one of his dealerships hoping that people waiting for their vehicle to be serviced would use it.

    Another had a respected 3rd party open a ‘cafe’ for high quality, fairly low cost meals and snacks.

    Neither seemed to add any more profit/business.

    So what do you look for in a dealership?

    Maybe Bark could post a column on this?

    And it is very disappointing that TTAC did not post any articles on the Humboldt disaster, and the possibility that traffic circles/roundabouts could greatly enhance road safety.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      But it’s probably a much more productive conversation than the one that will end up on this page.

      For what it’s worth, my wife drives a Mazda and I drive an Alfa bought from a dealer that looked like it got its space on a month-to-month sublease, so my vote is “not very much.”

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      One of our dealerships put in a barber shop. The employees used it. Not sure about customers.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Wrong d*^m article. Getting sick and tired of having to try 3 or 4 times to log in to this site!!!!!!

  • avatar
    redapple

    Big Brother knows best.
    Obey.
    Resistance is futile.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      War is peace.
      Ignorance is strength.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You can pick your nose, and you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.

      What?

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      > War is peace
      >Ignorance is strength

      This reminds me of a poem written on a high school wall in the 1970s:

      You will obey us while we lead you
      And eat the garbage that we feed you
      Until the day that we don’t need you
      Don’t call for help – no one will heed you

      Your mind is totally controlled
      It has been stuffed into our mold
      And you will do what you are told
      Until the rights to you are sold

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Semenak

        “I’m the Slime” By Frank Zappa

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        That is lyrics to an anti-TV Frank Zappa song that rings true to this day, in fact more so than when it was written decades ago.

        My TV has been cold and dark and disconnected for 10 years now.

        I am gross and perverted
        I’m obsessed ‘n deranged
        I have existed for years
        But very little has changed
        I’m the tool of the Government
        And industry too
        For I am destined to rule
        And regulate you

        I may be vile and pernicious
        But you can’t look away
        I make you think I’m delicious
        With the stuff that I say
        I’m the best you can get
        Have you guessed me yet?
        I’m the slime oozin’ out
        From your TV set

        You will obey me while I lead you
        And eat the garbage that I feed you
        Until the day that we don’t need you
        Don’t go for help . . . no one will heed you
        Your mind is totally controlled
        It has been stuffed into my mold
        And you will do as you are told
        Until the rights to you are sold

        That’s right, folks . . .
        Don’t touch that dial

        Well, I am the slime from your video
        Oozin’ along on your livin’ room floor

        I am the slime from your video
        Can’t stop the slime, people, lookit me go

        I am the slime from your video
        Oozin’ along on your livin’ room floor

        I am the slime from your video
        Can’t stop the slime, people, lookit me go…..

        Unfortunately some of that slime has oozed out of the TV and into the White House

  • avatar
    TMA1

    “protect our kids’ lungs”

    Finally, someone is thinking of the children. Thanks for wasting my tax dollars on this, Maryland!

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You think that tenth of a gallon in fuel economy not met has no effect? Multiply that by the number of gas guzzlers that get only 22 MPG, and it adds up to revenue!

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        No doubt this is all about the free bonus cash from just about every automaker. How could they not know the US fleet couldn’t meet such ridiculous goals?

        Do you really think this is about clean air or oil dependency?

  • avatar
    sirwired

    The idea that an executive-branch agency does not have an unlimited ability to ignore rules they don’t like is not a controversial area of the law. This is a pretty straightforward ruling.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Regulations that the bureaucracy of the executive branch creates are not laws. Only Congress can create laws. The fact that this is ignored so much these days just because Trump is president is setting some very dangerous precedent.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        There is a recent opinion by Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, which chastises Congress for writing vague laws that mean nothing until the bureaucracy writes explicit rules for how they are to be implemented. Legislation is the duty of Congress and they should not be delegating it to the bureaucracy.

        • 0 avatar
          gmichaelj

          “…chastises Congress for writing vague laws that mean nothing until the bureaucracy writes explicit rules…”

          I havent read that, but if true, then Gorsuch sounds a little dumb to me.

          Pols are going to give themselves and government regulators wiggle room.

          After all, are you going to need an Act of Congress, every time a situation changes?

          I don’t think Congressmen have the wisdom or knowledge to write rules for autos, water safety, banking, etc.

          Specifics and changes to those specifics are best left to agencies who specialize in these matters.

          So I haven’t read Gorsuch’s opinion, but if what you say is true, he doesn’t seem that bright to me.

          • 0 avatar
            Trucky McTruckface

            So you would prefer that our dumb congress-critters hand off the detail work on legislation to unelected bureaucrats that have basically zero accountability to general public?

            If we’re electing people who are passing laws they don’t understand and are willing to let some civil service flunky make the final decisions, I don’t think Gorsuch is the dumb one here…

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        Congress can, and has for decades, delegated authority to write and implement binding rules, subject to legislative guidelines that Congress has neither the time, expertise, or inclination to do so. This is constitutional since said authority can be withdrawn or modified at any time by passing a new law.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      ALL government agencies are executive branch. The same executive branch agency that made the decision now wants to delay its implementation, and the court is saying it’s too late – the decision is already in force.

      The rule, increasing the dollar penalties for CAFE non compliance to account for inflation since the original dollar amounts were set, came from the same agency that now wants to delay collection. That’s hardly the “executive branch” ignoring rules it doesn’t like.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        There are excellent reasons we don’t let presidents overhaul vast swathes of government at whim every 4-8 years. Kind of hard to get anything done as a business or individual if the law can change out from under you at any time.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I seem to recall another executive branch who had the ability to ignore rules – and statutes – it did not care to follow.

      http://www.thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/311608-obamas-curtain-call-a-look-back-on-a-legacy-of

      http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/obama-leaves-the-constitution-weaker-than-he-found-it/512015/

      https://www.dailysignal.com/2014/02/14/7-times-obama-ignored-law-impose-executive-will/

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Are we talking about how the Obama regime ignored immigration laws and election laws? I don’t recall the mainstream press getting bent out of shape about it.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The Obama rules would kill the midsize class of cars, trucks and SUVs, no doubt putting even more gas guzzlers on US roads.

    Cash is what this is all about anyway, but some rough math says the fullsize class, ranging from very profitable to obscenely profitable can cover the fines, about $1,500 or less, without raising MSRP or transactional,

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Remember that old saying, “Past Is Prologue?”

      Well, it is happening again. People will just buy one industrial class up if they are not happy with the products that the OEMs are mandated to offer them.

      Like when people started buying more pickup trucks when gas guzzling sedans were outlawed.

      If buyers become exasperated with the wimpy squirrel-powered pickup trucks that the OEMs will be forced to offer, the buyers will just step up to the industrial-strength 3/4 ton and 1-ton variety, sure to be exempted from the CAFE limitations.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It might’ve started out with good intentions, but there’s the thing about unintended consequences, or the road to hell is paved with something, but just ask Europe how their man-made ecological catastrophe and health related disaster is working out for them so far.

        But it’s for sure a money grab at this point. What have they got to lose by making the laws overkill to get maximum money from industry/big oil/etc to tone them down, make exceptions, loopholes, and whatnot.

        They turn it into a hellhole and move to Costa Rica with their billions is all.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    There’s not enough political palaver going on here to vindicate cognoscenti’s prediction, so here goes: the appeals court in question is the 2nd Court of Appeals in New York, the majority members of which are Clinton and Obama appointees. The actual hearing and decision was by a three-judge panel, not the entire court.

    FYI the issue is that the Obama administration decided in 2016, months before leaving office, to increase the fines from $5.50 to $14 per 1/10 MPG per car produced that doesn’t meet current CAFE standards. The Trump administration sought to delay the increase while the standards were being reviewed.

    So depending on your political bent, this is either a rollback of an outgoing administration’s 11th hour sneaky measure to pay off the environmental lobby, or a weakening of environmental standards that will endanger the lungs of our children.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Every administration passes/repeals rules on the way out the door. It’s a time-honored tradition. (Along with last-minute pardons, appointments it’s hard to undo, etc.) It’s also a tradition for Congress and the next administration to be grumpy about it. But that doesn’t change the legal facts of the situation.

      If the law says fines of $X will be charged if Y condition isn’t met, that doesn’t leave discretion to ignore those rules just because the process has been started to change them. There are rules with lots of discretion that can be slow-walked into oblivion, but this apparently isn’t one of them.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Pardons and lifetime appointments (subject to confirmation by Congress) ARE impossible to undo, but agency rules are a different matter. This (to give cognoscenti his due) is a decision by a liberal court to delay an executive agency’s modification of its own rule made under the previous administration.

        Ultimately, the increase will be eliminated. Yes, the rule is in force, but no fines have been collected yet. The court is just making it more difficult for the agency to avoid having to make refunds in the future, while burdening automakers with temporary rules that will be changed.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Not really a big deal. Already loopholes to keep worst offenders exempt by having separate rules for trucks.

  • avatar
    TW5

    The courts didn’t seem to care when Obama was delaying the Obamacare penalties and taxes to avoid the wrath of American voters.

    Ecoterrorism is alive and well. We are long overdue to round these people up and throw them in prison. They are not acting on behalf of mother earth. This battle is about control and about federal contracts and return on green investments.

    Eco fraud against American voters and taxpayers must be prosecuted.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      TW5,
      The “wrath of American voters” over Obamacare??

      So, what percentage of the population do you consider? 10% of you ultra right wing should have the write to dictate your extremist views?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        right

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Obamacare has been an abject failure. I’m not sure what sort of propaganda you’ve been subjected to, but Obamacare is more expensive, we didn’t get to keep our doctors in many instances, and the penalties and taxes were delayed until Obama left office. There are also hundreds of counties in the US with no qualifying Obamacare plan, and thousands with one insurer or less. It’s not ultra right wing. It’s the reality most Americans have been living in for quite some time.

        Regarding the eco moonbats, they ceased focusing on the environment long ago. CAFE 2025 is about the pillage of the American citizenry, and making the auto industry genuflect to the dubious assertion that hybrids and plug-ins generate less pollution over their lifecycle than a simple economy car.

        • 0 avatar
          TwoBelugas

          I don’t know anyone whose health insurance premiums has decreased since ACA. Not sure when the “affordable” part is set to kicks in.

          The people with preexisting conditions can buy insurance now, it’s just about as much as their wages. Actuaries aren’t morons.

          • 0 avatar

            Ding, Ding, Ding! You have identified one of the reasons cost for medical insurance has continued to increase by a larger percentage than it possibly would have otherwise. Preexisting’s are partially to blame. This seems to me to be one of those things that many folks don’t even consider. A known chronically ill person wants to buy insurance. The insurance company knows they will, without a doubt, be paying out for the procedures/treatments this individual needs. It’s inevitable. Consequently, to bring in the dollars to cover this necessity of income, policy costs go up. The insurer cannot guarantee payment for services rendered if they do not have the “money in the bank”, so to speak.

            Am I saying folks with preexisting’s should not be allowed to have coverage? No! They should, however, be put in a separate class of insureds with the cost for that class of coverage to be priced appropriately. Folks with non-chronic issues should be in a completely different – and appropriately priced – insurance class. (Over simplified, I know.)

            The ACA took away that possibility by mandating like coverage for every insured instead of coverage matching the needs of differing individuals. (Oops, that would require a free market approach.) Affordable is not possible in the scenario as it stands now.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          TW5,
          The US health system needs a restructure. Pharma, AMA, and insurance have incredible lobby power in DC.

          Seriously the US needs to look at how other countries can offer affordable and better quality health.

  • avatar
    SnarkyRichard

    What exactly is the official policy on diesel pickup truck operators who disconnect pollution control devices and decide to roll coal spewing huge black blinding clouds of pollution behind their idiot moronic asses ? A minimum ten grand fine (after a first time warning) and confiscation of the truck in violation would work for a start .

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      SnarkyRichard,
      They should do the same as below;

      https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/nearly-400-vehicles-a-month-crushed-or-sold-with-baldivis-now-perths-home-to-hoons-ng-b88602540z

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      >What exactly is the official policy on diesel pickup truck operators who disconnect pollution control devices and decide to roll coal spewing huge black blinding clouds of pollution behind their idiot moronic asses ?

      I call those individuals Rolling Dopes.

    • 0 avatar
      bubbagump

      Can I include the Mustang buyers who load up the urban jackass sound pack so they can blast their presence from 10 blocks away, every day. Ya got a Mustang, with a manual, and you’re going to remind us between every f’n set of lights. We get it, now stfu and go away.

  • avatar
    x-defector

    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…..

    https://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/features/emissions-test-car-vs-truck-vs-leaf-blower.html

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      Charliej

      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.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Coal Rollers should have their vehicles confiscated and destroyed.

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