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State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

NJ sues Trump administration over reduced fuel efficiency penalties

Penalties cut 60% under new Trump rule

By Nikita Biryukov, August 02 2019 2:43 pm

State Attorney general Gurbir Grewal announced a lawsuit against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the agency’s recently-approved 60% cut of penalties for violations of fuel-efficiency standards.

“Fuel efficiency standards are the heart of our country’s efforts to improve our air and protect us from the threat of climate change,” Grewal said. “But our environmental laws are only as strong as the penalties they bring. We should be doing more, not less, to combat climate change, which is why I’m proud to file this lawsuit challenging the Administration’s decision to slash the penalties for these environmental offenses. The auto industry needs to know that a penalty for breaking our laws is more than just the cost of doing business.”

Last week, President Donald Trump’s administration finalized a rule cutting the $14 per tenth-of-a-mile-per-gallon penalty to $5.50, just 50 cents above what the penalty was when it was established in 1975.

The $14 penalty was instated under President Barack Obama, but under Trump’s tenure the rule was suspended pending a re-evaluation.

A U.S. Appeals court vacated the suspension, reinstating the $14 penalty, but Trump’s administration moved to reduce the penalty via the federal rule-making process.

“The federal government is putting the brakes on progress toward cleaner air. Effective enforcement of federal fuel emission standards is a critical component of New Jersey’s work toward responding to climate change,” New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe said. “At a time when we are seeing increased adoption of electric vehicles and clean energy, this is a detour in the wrong direction.”

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