WASHINGTON, DC - March 28 - The Department of Transportation today began its environmental review of the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for passenger vehicles — cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs — in response to a court ruling last year that the Bush administration violated the law by ignoring global warming.
In November 2007, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lax national gas-mileage standards for SUVs and pickup trucks. The court sent the gas-mileage standards back to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a full Environmental Impact Statement to include the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. The court opinion, Center for Biological Diversity v. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 508 F.3d 508 (9th Cir. 2007), is the first appellate court opinion explicitly requiring federal agencies to consider global warming when making decisions that result in greenhouse gas emissions. The ruling also struck down loopholes that exempted many large trucks from fuel-economy standards.
“Raising fuel-economy standards is one of the most effective actions the government can take to quickly and significantly reduce greenhouse gas pollution,” said Brian Nowicki of the Center for Biological Diversity.
Despite the clear and strong ruling by the courts, the Bush administration is currently seeking a rehearing in the Ninth Circuit, hoping to overturn the court order to reissue CAFE standards for model years 2008-2010. Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has begun its review of the environmental impacts of CAFE standards for model years 2011-2015 for cars, pickups, and SUVs.
“A serious look at the climate science tells us we must immediately and drastically decrease greenhouse pollution from personal vehicles, and a clear look at the technologies already available tells us we can,” said Nowicki.
The Bush administration had previously set low fuel-economy standards of 22.5, 23.1, and 23.5 miles per gallon for upcoming model years 2008, 2009, and 2010, respectively, for light trucks and SUVs. The transportation sector produces about 31 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions of the United States.
Today’s Federal Register notice on the Environmental Impact Statement can be found at:
The Ninth Circuit ruling and press release of November 2007 from can be found at:
The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 40,000 members dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.