NRDC and Partners Sue Trump Administration for Unlawful Delay of Fuel Economy Penalties

WASHINGTON – Natural Resources Defense Council and two other groups today sued the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), accusing it of unlawfully delaying a rule that would increase penalties for carmakers that violate fuel economy standards. The agency's delay is letting auto manufacturers off with a slap on the wrist when they exceed standards that are saving drivers money at the pump and reducing pollution.

The lawsuit, joined by the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, outlines how NHTSA lacked authority to delay the penalty increase, and illegally ignored process and transparency requirements that give the public a chance to comment on the decision. Last year, the Obama administration increased the penalty rate from $5.50 to $14 per tenth of a mile per gallon, to account for inflation.

The following is a statement from Irene Gutierrez, an attorney with NRDC’s Energy and Transportation Program:

President Trump is attacking our successful clean car program from all sides. Letting automakers off the hook for breaking the law comes at the expense of consumer savings and healthier communities.

“As the recent Volkswagen scandal showed, some automakers are more than willing to place their profits ahead of protecting public health. Laws must have teeth to hold bad actors accountable. Unfortunately, we have an administration that is doing the automakers’ bidding, instead of delivering on its responsibility to protect the public’s health and welfare. If the federal government won’t do its job, NRDC will step in to protect public health and uphold the law.”

For a blog post by Irene Gutierrez, click here.

To see the petition for review filed today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, click here.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Related Press Releases