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AEE Challenges EPA Fuel Efficiency Standards Rollback for Light-Duty Vehicles

Posted by Advanced Energy Economy on Feb 19, 2019

Business group files Amicus Brief in support of states’ challenge to EPA’s unlawful attempt to unwind existing achievable and cost-effective standards

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 19, 2019 – Today national business group Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) announced it has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in support of petitions brought by 17 states, the District of Columbia, and others challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed rollback greenhouse gas emissions standards for light-duty vehicles. AEE’s amicus brief, its first-ever legal action on fuel efficiency standards, can be downloaded here.

“As a national business group representing advanced clean transportation manufacturers and solution providers, it is crucial for us to ensure that the court has all of the information it needs to assess EPA’s market damaging rollback of fuel efficiency standards,” said Jeff Dennis, managing director and general counsel at AEE.

“EPA’s action here ignored overwhelming evidence that current light-duty vehicle emission standards are achievable and cost-effective with the emergence and consumer acceptance of low- and zero-emissions vehicle technologies. The market for these vehicles is expanding rapidly internationally and domestically, with U.S. plug-in electric vehicles sales alone rising 81% last year,” said Matt Stanberry, AEE managing director and leader of the organization’s transportation working group.  

The case involves challenges to EPA’s decision last year to withdraw its previous determination that the light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2022-2025 are technically achievable and cost-effective. That decision set the stage for a now-pending proposed rulemaking that would weaken those standards. Petitioners argue that EPA failed to fulfill its responsibilities under the Clean Air Act and relied on faulty and incomplete data and an unlawful process in withdrawing its previous determination that the existing standards can be achieved.

Representing the perspective of businesses that develop cost-effective technology innovations to reduce air pollution from vehicles, AEE’s brief argues that:

  • EPA Ignores the Clean Air Act’s Focus on Technology Development and that the More Stringent Rule is Technically Feasible. The Clean Air Act (“CAA”) is a “technology-forcing” statute designed to incentivize innovation and ingenuity to reduce air pollution and increase fuel efficiency in the automotive sector. A vast body of work by EPA and other national and state agencies demonstrates that more stringent fuel-efficiency regulations are achievable and technically feasible given the availability and cost-effectiveness of evolving automobile technologies, including electric vehicles (EVs) and other low- and zero-emitting automobile technologies.

  • EPA’s Actions Have Created Regulatory Instability, Which Inflicts Present, Material Harm Warranting Judicial Review. EPA’s withdrawal of its previous determination that the current standards are achievable, and the process by which that occurred, harms AEE members, who have relied on the long-standing 2022-2025 standards to guide their investment decision-making.

  • EPA’s New Determination Suffers from Fatal Procedural Flaws. EPA failed to apply a rigorous technology analysis to its reconsideration of the prior determination, as required by the CAA and EPA’s own regulations. Rather than employ the required thorough technology assessment, EPA essentially skipped to the final step in the process, choosing to base its decision almost entirely on information provided by a few parties that was not made available for public comment.

  • EPA Failed to Address the Record Evidence Demonstrating That There Are Cost-Effective Pathways to Meeting the Standards, That Electrification Is Viable, and That Consumers Are Buying Advanced, Clean Vehicles. EPA’s decision fails to satisfy its basic legal obligation of reasoned decision-making by declining to address evidence in the record that runs contrary to its conclusion. EPA’s discussion of technology feasibility and cost-effectiveness claims that the agency “identified areas where EPA underestimated costs” in its previous determination, but fails to address both its own finding that the costs of compliance “are lower than those projected in the 2012 rule,” analysis by California’s air regulator (CARB) demonstrating that the current standards can be met at the same or lower cost than originally predicted when they were adopted in 2012, and market data showing declining costs and increasing consumer adoption of clean zero-emission vehicles.

“The case for sticking to the original emissions standards is undeniable. The evidence shows that the technology to meet those standards exists today, it’s more cost-effective than originally estimated in 2012, and the automotive industry has been gearing up for these standards for years,” said Dennis. “EPA’s decision to withdraw its own earlier finding that the standards are cost-effective and technically-achievable ignores this overwhelming evidence and is causing material market harm right now. The court should step in and ensure that these standards stay in place, and that EPA conducts the thorough review of technology development and cost-effectiveness required by the law if it continues to seek to withdraw those standards.”

EPA has until April 8 to file its response, and intervenors in support of EPA have until April 15 to file briefs. Reply briefs of states and others (including utilities) challenging EPA’s actions (i.e., the Petitioners) are due May 6. The briefing process will be complete on May 28, and the court will then schedule an oral argument, expected in early fall. 

About Advanced Energy Economy 
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is a national association of businesses that are making the energy we use secure, clean, and affordable. Advanced energy encompasses a broad range of products and services that constitute the best available technologies for meeting energy needs today and tomorrow. AEE’s mission is to transform public policy to enable rapid growth of advanced energy businesses. Engaged at the federal level and in more than a dozen states around the country, AEE represents more than 100 companies in the $200 billion U.S. advanced energy industry, which employs more than 3 million U.S. workers. Learn more at and follow the latest industry news @AEEnet.

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