Tesla is urging the United States Appeals Court to reinstate a 2016 Obama regulation that would double penalties for car companies who fail to adopt fuel efficiency requirements. The requirements were enacted to reduce emissions from internal combustion engine vehicles, but they were ultimately delayed until the 2022 model year by the Trump Administration on January 14th.
In 2016, former President Barack Obama adopted a new regulation that would hold automakers accountable for not meeting fuel efficiency requirements. In 2015, Congress ordered federal agencies to adjust civil penalties to account for inflation. The NHTSA ended up raising fines from $5.50 to $14 for every 0.1 miles per gallon new cars and trucks would consume over the required standards.
The penalties were delayed until car companies began producing 2022 models of their vehicles, a move that was enacted by the Trump Administration earlier this year before Joe Biden eventually replaced the former President. Now, the Trump Administration’s delay is being challenged by Tesla, who wants lawmakers to reinstate the regulation to encourage automakers to develop fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly powertrains. According to Reuters, Tesla called the Trump campaign’s actions “unlawful” and said that the delay in action “diminishes the value of performance-based incentives that electric vehicle manufactures, such as Tesla, accrue under the standards.”
The Biden Administration is currently opposing Tesla’s request for immediate action as the NHTSA currently scrutinizes the Trump campaign’s decision to delay emissions penalties.
The Trump campaign initially sought to have the emissions penalties delayed in July 2019, but the U.S. Appeals Court overturned the decision. It was met with plenty of backlash from individual states and several environmental groups. Additionally, Former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “the Trump administration sought to make these penalties meaningless.” Becerra now serves as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Sierra Club’s Senior Attorney Alejandra Núñez told Reuters the “Trump Administration cannot give away polluting passes to automakers who lag behind on meeting standards required by law.”
Several large automakers based in the United States have plans to go to zero-emissions powertrains exclusively by a certain date. General Motors has announced that it only will manufacture electric powertrains by 2035. Ford has plans to accomplish this by 2030, but only in its European market.