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Lockyer Plans Suit on Fuel Economy Rules

Attorney general alleges that new U.S. standards for trucks, SUVs violate environmental laws.

May 02, 2006|Marc Lifsher | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer plans to sue the Bush administration today, alleging that new federal fuel economy standards for light trucks and sport utility vehicles violate federal environmental laws.

The lawsuit -- to be filed with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by California, nine other states, the District of Columbia and the city of New York -- alleges that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has failed to address the effect of the standards on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.

"The Bush administration once again has missed an opportunity to promote new technology, fuel economy and conservation by issuing fuel economy goals that are status quo," Lockyer said in a statement released by his office Monday.

Robert Johnson, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation, called the lawsuit "predictable" and stressed that "we have every confidence our rule will be upheld when it is reviewed by the courts."

According to the Department of Transportation, the new federal standards, released in March, represent the first overhaul of the so-called CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) program for pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans since 1979.

Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta estimated that the rules, which would raise light-truck targets to 24 mpg from 21.6 mpg, would save 250 million gallons of gasoline a year when fully implemented. The standards also would close a loophole that exempted large SUVs, weighing from 8,500 pounds to 10,000 pounds, from fuel economy requirements.

Lockyer's latest legal complaint follows a lawsuit filed by him and the other attorneys general last week alleging that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted weak pollution standards for new power plants.

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