Environmental Law

Appeals Court Tosses SUV Emissions Standards

A federal appeals court has tossed new fuel economy standards for light trucks, saying the government failed to consider the economic impact of emissions that contribute to global warming.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also said the government should explain why it set lower standards for light trucks, which include sport utility vehicles, pickups and minivans, the New York Times reports.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had required the average fuel economy of light trucks to reach 23.5 miles per gallon by 2010, while cars were required to achieve 27.5 miles per gallon, the Washington Post reports. The court in its ruling (PDF) yesterday ordered the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop new standards “as expeditiously as possible.”

The ruling was the third by a federal court in seven months telling regulators to consider the impact of global warming in setting pollution standards.

Environmental law professor Patrick Parenteau of Vermont Law School noted the development. “What this says to me is that the courts are catching up with climate change and the law is catching up with climate change,” he told the Times.

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