Trump's Reversal of CAFE Violation Fines Draws Lawsuit

Trump's Reversal of CAFE Violation Fines Draws Lawsuit

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra

The Trump Administration is about to fight a proxy war with the Obama Administration – after Trump’s NHTSA reversed the Obama-era penalties for corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) violations, 12 states and the District of Columbia filed suit.

In 2016, the Obama Administration raised the existing fines for CAFE violations by more than 250%. The revised rule would raise the penalty from $5.50 per 0.1 mpg over federal CAFE standards to $14 per 0.1 mpg.

Needless to say, automakers weren’t thrilled with the fine hike, and understandably so.

According to the NHTSA, manufacturers have paid more than $500 million in civil penalties since 1983. Manufacturers can earn credits by “multiplying the tenths of a mile per gallon that the manufacturer exceeded the CAFE standard in that model year by the amount of vehicles they manufactured in that model year,” but it’s fair to say that at least some of those fines have trickled down to consumers.

A statement from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (because of course California is one of the plaintiffs) claimed that the NHTSA’s reversal violated the 2015 Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, to say nothing of the moral concerns.

“Fuel efficient cars on our roads are good for the economy, the environment, and our health. Our nation’s CAFE standards have proven their value,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We were victorious in our earlier court battle against President Trump in maintaining the CAFE penalty level that accounts for inflation as required by law. Now the Trump Administration seeks to make these penalties meaningless.”

Read more about this pending legal challenge here: