House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), filed an amicus brief today in the case of Competitive Enterprise Institute, et al. v. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), et al., which is currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Pallone and Carper filed their amicus brief in support of 50 public interest groups and state and local governments petitioning the Trump Administration’s unlawful “Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks.” This rule drastically weakens the vehicle emission standards and fuel economy standards promulgated by the Obama-Biden Administration. The lawmakers argue this action jeopardizes public health by weakening vehicle emission standards under the Clean Air Act (CAA) without analyzing the effects of climate change, and follows last July’s amicus brief in a different case challenging the SAFE Vehicles Preemption Rule.
“The Rule’s failure to prioritize the public as the CAA requires is demonstrated by its woeful health outcomes. EPA acknowledges that by weakening existing emission standards, the Rule will result in many more people dying and falling ill,” the lawmakers wrote in the brief.
The lawmakers also contend that the Trump Administration unlawfully disregarded Congress’ mandate to conserve energy in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act by failing to set the maximum feasible fuel economy standards.
“It is difficult to conceive of more dispositive evidence that NHTSA’s final standards fall short of what is ‘maximum feasible’ than the fact that NHTSA’s own analysis reveals that those standards require less of automakers than what automakers would achieve even if the Rule required no stringency increases at all. Rather than pursuing energy conservation as Congress intended, NHTSA instead harms the economy and consumers with the Rule,” Pallone and Carper continued.
Moreover, the lawmakers argued that the Trump Administration violated the CAA and core tenets of administrative law. Specifically, the brief argues that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) abdicated its statutory authorities and unlawfully allowed NHTSA to exercise powers given by Congress solely to EPA. In addition, the agencies intentionally withheld key documents from the rulemaking docket.
“In sum, the substance of the Rule — and the procedures by which it was adopted — dispel any notion that EPA and NHTSA faithfully carried out their duties consistently with Congress’s directives,” they concluded.
States representing more than half of the nation’s population and nearly 60 percent of the U.S. economy have joined the lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s efforts to strip them of the rights granted to them under the Clean Air Act. Those states, including the District of Columbia, are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, the People of the State of Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Read the lawmakers’ amicus brief here.
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