New Jersey’s attorney general is suing the Trump administration over its plans to drastically cut fines for automakers that violate federal 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,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in an Aug. 2 statement announcing that New Jersey would join the multi-state lawsuit.
In late July, U.S. President Donald Trump’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalized a rule that would cut the $14 per tenth-of-a-mile per gallon gas penalty to $5.50, which were in place in 1997 and just are 50 cents above what the penalties were in 1975.
The Obama administration proposed the $14 penalty in 2016, but that was delayed once Trump took office with the current administration saying it would “re-evaluate” the proposed increase and in the meantime keep in place the $5.30 penalty.
A U.S. federal appeals court vacated the suspension and reinstated the $14 penalty, but the NHTSA, in turn, used its federal rulemaking authority to begin rolling back the $14 fine.
“Our environmental laws are only as strong as the penalties they bring,” Grewal added. “We should be doing more, not less, to combat climate change.”