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CEI to Challenge Federal Fuel Economy Rule in Court As Unsafe

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute today planned* to file a petition in federal appeals court alleging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration failed to fully consider the adverse safety impact of the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficiency (SAFE) rule that it issued in March 2020.

“The agency was right to roll back the scheduled increases in fuel economy standards, which would have made cars less crashworthy and increased highway fatalities,” said Sam Kazman, CEI general counsel. “But NHTSA should have reduced those standards even more, and perhaps frozen them entirely.”

“NHTSA’s own cost-benefit analysis shows that a less stringent standard would have more benefits than costs compared to what NHTSA chose to do,” said Devin Watkins, a CEI attorney.

The petition will be filed on behalf of CEI and four individuals concerned about the SAFE rule’s impact on their future car-buying choices. If the petition for review is successful, it could mean that the court would order NHTSA to reconsider its decision not to go further in deregulating the mile-per-gallon standards.

In 1992, CEI won a similar lawsuit against NHTSA, holding that the agency had illegally concealed the lethal impacts of its fuel economy standards through a combination of “fudged analysis,” “bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo,” and “statistical legerdemain.”

*The filing has so far been delayed because of a highly unusual circumstance. The Federal Register, the official daily government publication of regulations, proposed rules, and similar items (major and minor), did not go online today.

The SAFE rule was scheduled to appear in today's Federal Register, but until that actually happens it cannot be challenged in court.

View the petition

Related analysis: Trump Administration Finalizes New Vehicle Fuel Economy Rule