Bush Administration Sued Over Fuel Economy Standards

From The Washington Post:

Nine states have sued the administration of President George W. Bush for lenient automotive fuel economy standards that they say worsen an energy crunch and contribute to air pollution and climate change.

The lawsuit says that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has failed to meet federal laws requiring government to determine the impact of regulation on fuel conservation and the environment.

"At a time when consumers are struggling to pay surging gas prices and the challenge of global climate change has become even more clear, it is unconscionable that the Bush Administration is not requiring greater mileage efficiency for light trucks," said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in a press release.

In March, the Bush administration approved a 1.9 mile-per-gallon increase in the standards for sport utility vehicles, minivans and pickups — all in the light truck class that includes big gas guzzlers — to 24.1 mpg between 2008 and 2011. It also rewrote the rules for calculating how far light trucks must go on a gallon of gasoline.

But the lawsuit, joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont, says the move included language that could "create incentives to build larger, less fuel-efficient models" and attempts to pre-empt a California law requiring a reduction of greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions.

Bush said last week he is also seeking authority from Congress to allow him to boost fuel-efficiency standards for passenger cars. Bush proposed no specific figure for increasing mileage standards for cars for the first time in 16 years, but officials said they wanted broad changes.

Environmentalists have long urged a substantial increase in fuel-economy standards, which they view as one of the most effective means of reducing the U.S. appetite for foreign oil.

The attorney general of the District of Columbia and the corporate counsel for New York City have also joined.

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