Greens sue Trump officials over delayed auto efficiency penalties

Greens sue Trump officials over delayed auto efficiency penalties
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Three environmental groups sued the Trump administration Thursday over its decision to delay a new regulation to increase fines for automakers who violate efficiency rules.

The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity said in a federal court filing that the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) action was illegal, and want the court to force the new regulation to go forward.

“By suspending higher fines that automakers must pay for cheating on fuel economy standards, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE is basically telling deceiving automakers, ‘You don’t have to pay the pricey ticket, you can go to traffic school,’ ” Sierra Club attorney Alejandra Núñez said in a statement.

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"Without strict penalties, automakers will continue breaking the law at the expense of consumer savings, and Americans’ health and safety.”

The regulation, written under the Obama administration, would have increased automakers’ penalties for noncompliance with efficiency rules to $14 for each tenth of a mile per gallon for each vehicle an automaker sold in violation of the rules, starting in 2019.

The existing penalty, in place for more than 40 years, is $5.50. Congress passed a law last year mandating that federal agencies increase their penalties to account for inflation, on a retroactive basis.

With the July action, the NHTSA both delayed the enforcement of the new penalties and kicked off a formal process to consider whether to roll them back completely or revise them.