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AG Nessel Joins Multistate Coalition in Defense of Federal Fuel Economy Standards

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a multistate coalition in filing a motion to intervene in defense of federal fuel economy standards for light duty vehicles. In May 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) adopted more stringent fuel economy standards for model year 2024-2026 vehicles. AG Nessel joined a multistate coalition of attorneys general in urging NHTSA to adopt these standards, and a similar coalition now seeks to join NHTSA in defending these standards from challenges filed by several states and a petroleum industry group.

"Setting fuel economy standards to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce refinery pollution is good for everyone," Nessel said. "This will reduce harmful emissions, save consumers money, and help protect the health of our communities. Rolling back these standards during the Trump Administration was not in the best interests of the residents of this country and we now have a chance to correct that regression. I happily stand with my fellow attorneys general in supporting the new, stricter fuel economy standards."

Under the Energy Policy Conservation Act, NHTSA is required to set standards to improve fuel economy and reduce energy consumption of vehicles to the maximum extent feasible. During the Trump Administration, NHTSA instead gutted fuel economy standards for model year 2022-2026 vehicles, a move that the states subsequently challenged in court. NHTSA’s new standards for model year 2024-2026 vehicles undo some of the damage by increasing stringency by 8-10% annually. These standards will save an estimated 60 billion gallons of gasoline, resulting in consumer savings of over $98 billion.

Improved fuel economy doesn't just save consumers money at the pump, it improves national security by reducing the country’s dependence on imported oil, mitigates climate change, improves air quality by reducing tailpipe emissions, thereby benefitting public health. In addition to consumer savings, NHTSA’s standards are expected to reduce multiple types of harmful air pollution, including particulate matter and benzene, from refinery operations. The benefits of these standards will be magnified in low-income communities and communities of color, where refineries are often sited, and whose members are disproportionately burdened by pollution and associated harmful health impacts.

In the motion to intervene, the coalition argues that the fuel economy standards are critically important to the states, which have a responsibility to protect residents and state resources from rising gas prices, oil price shocks, and negative impacts from higher fuel consumption, including harmful emissions from fuel refining activities.

AG Nessel joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as the City and County of Denver, and the Cities of Los Angeles and New York in filing the motion.

A copy of the motion, which is subject to court approval, is available here.

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