Brown Sues Over “Pathetic” Fuel Efficiency Standards

May 14, 2007: Source – San Francisco Examiner

Jerry Brown

The fight for greater fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks has shifted to a struggle between states—trying to protect their environment—and the federal government, which has been reluctant to raise efficiency standards. On Monday, the battle heated up as lawyers from 11 states told a federal appeals court that the Bush administration failed to consider global warming when setting new gas mileage rules. The Assocaited Press reported the story:

The plaintiffs, led by California’s attorney general, told the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that federal regulators ignored the effects of carbon dioxide emissions when calculating fuel economy standards for light trucks and sport utility vehicles.

The new mileage standards, announced in March 2006, require an increase in the average fuel economy for all passenger trucks sold in the United States from 22.2 miles per gallon to 23.5 miles per gallon by 2010. Speaking outside the courthouse, Attorney General Jerry Brown called the increase "pathetic" and said it "has the hand of lobbying, not the mind of science."

Lawyers for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which sets the mileage standards, called the cost of greenhouse emissions from vehicles "unquantifiable" and said prioritizing their reduction went beyond the agency’s legal mandate.

The arguments came the same day as President Bush ordered federal agencies to find a way to begin regulating vehicle emissions by the time he leaves office. Environmental groups, which have long called for substantial increases in the government-mandated fuel standards, expressed skepticism that the administration would enact new standards without Congressional action, and dissatisfaction that Mr. Bush did not offer specifics.

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  • Jeff

    Looks like there is momentum building to demand higher fuel efficiency even if consumers keep falling short in their support for higher mileage. Of the 3 cars I have purchase in my lifetime all have been the highest mileage vehicles I could afford at the time.

    Apologies in advance to whomever I offend but why on earth do people proudly post to these forums that they purchased a Highlander Hybrid or some other High End Hybrid vehicle when the mileage still sucks. The only thing they are doing is buying a little emblem that sits on the back side of the vehicle so they can pretend that 3o mpg is fine since it is a Hybrid. Give me a break, sell that overpriced Highlander or Camry and buy a Prius then donate the difference to Toyota to help develop better technology. I will bet my last dollar 90% of those hybrid 4x4s will never see a gravel road let alone a muddy trail.

    Now all the true greenies can beat me up for purchasing a car at all. Where is my copy of Mother Earth News? We are all going to need it.

  • Travis

    “Apologies in advance to whomever I offend but why on earth do people proudly post to these forums that they purchased a Highlander Hybrid or some other High End Hybrid vehicle when the mileage still sucks.”

    Don’t apologize. It needed to be said.

  • TheGiant

    Jeff,
    I bought a Camry Hybird, and bypassed a Prius. Reason? The steering. My wife received whiplash in a car accident, and the steering was too stiff for her in the Prius. The TCH has better fuel ratings than the regular 4-cyl Camry. In fact, we’re getting ~40 mpg now. So I think the decision of a TCH over a Prius was a good one.

  • John

    Some of the hybrid cars are very eco unfriendly as they produce more carbon in the build and decommissioning (scrapping!) due to greater technical and material content. You may think you are an Ecowarriar but are you??

  • Dan

    OKay then lets all skip the ICE all together, and wait for the Honda FCX production model. I’m going to be in the market for a new car in early 08 I hope it avaiable by then.

  • cancersurvivor

    The EPA just reported that the Los Angeles area is the most air-polluted metro area in the United States. Due to pollutants in the air, over 5400 more people die of lung related diseases in Los Angeles every year, by the EPA estimate. Children in Los Angeles have lung lesions from the smog. This is a public health and safety issue, not a corporate profits or corporate rights issue. The government must reduce emissions for the public health and safety. The EPA report went on to say that HALF of people living in the USA live in areas that do not meet current air quality standards. People – taxpaying US citizens – are dying from air pollution in the tens of thousands every year! It is far past the time for government to step in for the public health and safety. In addition to increasing mileage standards, the states must again adopt rules for zero-emissions cars. Who killed the electric car? Big Auto, Big Oil, and the Bush administration killed the electric car. People are dying and government must act! Public health and safety trumps any other issue.

  • Mike

    Supposedly, there is work going on in Congress to raise the standards to 35MPG by 2017(?).

    I hope this works, though I bet Bush will stop this.

    Come on people, 40MPG is the magic number. Make 40MPG and obtain an United States independent of foreign oil.

  • Mary

    People need to stop the Bush-bashing… WE are the ones driving the vehicles (well maintained or not), WE are the ones who drive the economy, WE are the ones who make the trends happen, not the pencil pushers of Washington.
    The automakers are finally waking up to the fact that WE want more from our cars than we have had in the past. That is why the Hybrid craze is happening. The hot media word for this year has been “green”. I am in favor of using the technology to lower emissions. In fact, I just bought a Prius a couple of weeks ago. Congress has always been behind the times on things and this is another example of it, but any step forward is an improvement. WE the consumers need to make sure WE educate ourselves and demand better gas milage and lower emissions. After all, WE are the ones BUYING the products.

  • Jack

    Most people who bash the prius have little or no knowledge of the truly great performance this car provides. Mileage overall is around 50mpg and the ride is excellent. I don’t think it’s performance on ice or in snow is very good but otherwise for steering and braking the car is superior all the way. Thanks

  • BP

    Only 23.5 miles per gallon by 2010! Wow, this is great news for oil companies. I was hoping around 35 to 50 mpg. GM, Oil companies, and Government = Global warming. “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

  • John

    Jeff, I think your opinion on SUV hybrid models and high end hybrid versions is a little unrealistic, you can not expect everyone to stop driving SUV’s, or bigger more comfortable cars right away, it takes time. I understand what you are trying to say when it comes to gas mileage, your right, but in order for hybrids to become successful in today’s market it’s going to have to be done in small steps. By introducing hybrid technology into different models it will make the concept more successful, once that is done then hopefully more efficient hybrid engines will come out and eventually we will see higher numbers. But by saying hybrid models besides the prius are bad is foolish. I believe that it is great that hybrid technology is expanding into more models; it equals success in the long run in achieving high MPG.

  • MJ

    The politicians are not the ones who will make the changes needed to wean us off foreign oil, we are. They think they can manipulate us into thinking that they can, but it is not true. This article just goes to show how desparate they are to prove he or she is “the one” that will lead us into the perfect future. Sueing, how dumb is that? It is just another ploy by a politician to get his name recognized and get some of that “green” vote.
    It wasn’t too long ago when a car getting 20mpg was a big thing. Now, the car makers are finally striving for better, thanks to the pressures from us, the public.
    If most vehicles coming out become hybrid or alternative-fuel it is better for everyone. Any improvement in gas mileage or lower emissions is good and a giant step forward. We have a long way to go still, but we are finally moving forward.
    The public is being made aware of things we can do and that it is our personal responsibility to make the changes, not the government’s.