Latest Update November 21, 2018

The Court declined to dismiss the case and referred the issues to a merits panel.

This followed our response to the government's motion to dismiss, in which we chiefly demonstrated why the Pruitt Determination affected fuel economy standards independent of EPA’s August, 2018 decision to lower the standards.

In April 2018, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed his own agency’s finding that existing fuel economy standards would save consumers billions of dollars and slash greenhouse gas emissions. His determination undermined those standards, setting up consumers to drive cars that are dirtier and less safe.

The Pruitt Determination is a gift to the automobile and fossil fuels industries, and is unsupported by law or science. While the original standards were supported by thousands of pages of peer reviewed science and years of analysis, Pruitt’s determination was an eleven page document untethered to accurate data or to the agency’s prior work. As such, the determination violated the Clean Air Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

We represent the Union of Concerned Scientists as part of a broad coalition challenging the Pruitt Determination. As EPA relies on the determination to weaken the nation’s fuel economy standards and accelerate global climate change, dozens of states, NGOs, and advocates of clean energy have petitioned the D.C. Circuit to declare the decision unlawful.

On November 21, 2018, the D.C. Circuit declined the Trump Administration’s initial attempt to dismiss the case. We are now developing a schedule for merits briefing.

October 15, 2012

EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued standards for cleaner, safer cars through 2025.

The fuel economy standards would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of approximately 2 billion metric tons and would have net benefits of $326 to $451 billion over the affected vehicles’ lifetimes. As part of the rule establishing the standards, EPA agreed to revisit the underlying science and other data in 2017.

January 12, 2017

EPA affirmed the standards are appropriate.

Relying on a 1,200 page technical report and peer reviewed science, EPA concluded that “technology adoption rates and the pace of innovation have accelerated even beyond what EPA expected,” that the automobile market had enjoyed record sales during the standards’ first five years, and that any increased costs to consumers would be more than offset by lower fuel consumption.

April 13, 2018

Scott Pruitt withdrew and reversed EPA’s appropriateness finding.

At the request of the automobile industry, EPA suddenly and arbitrarily concluded the standards were no longer feasible in an 11-page document devoid of specifics or technical analysis.

May 15, 2018

The Union of Concerned Scientists, along with dozens of states, NGOs, and manufacturers of clean cars, petitioned to overturn Administrator Pruitt’s determination.

August 24, 2018

EPA announced a proposal to weaken fuel economy standards through 2025.

If enacted, the weakened standards would cost consumers billions of dollars and significantly accelerate the pace of global climate change.

July 10, 2018

The government moved to dismiss our case.

August 29, 2018

We responded to the government’s motion to dismiss.

Our response chiefly demonstrated why the Pruitt Determination affected fuel economy standards independent of EPA’s August, 2018 decision to lower the standards.

November 21, 2018

The Court declined to dismiss the case and referred the issues to a merits panel.

We are now working to propose a briefing schedule for the case’s merits.

Travis Annatoyn

Senior Counsel

Litigating against the unfaithful application of the nation’s environmental laws.

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Aman George

Legal Policy Director

Former law firm associate working with the policy team to identify high impact legal actions.

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Allison Hunn

Legal Analyst

Focusing on education, the environment, energy, agriculture, housing, and transportation.

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