FOIA bid targets talks between automakers, regulators

Source: Camille von Kaenel, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, August 25, 2017

An environmental group is seeking records on the auto industry’s role in expanding a review of federal tailpipe standards.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s correspondence with auto manufacturers over the agency’s proposed reconsideration of the fuel efficiency standard for model year 2021.

The NHTSA review was part of its scheduled plan for new fuel efficiency standards for model years 2022 to 2025. The inclusion of the 2021 target — which is already on the books — was unexpected (E&E News PM, July 25).

Automakers have said the standards for later years are too expensive to meet and asked U.S. EPA and NHTSA for relief, but they had not publicly asked for a reconsideration of the 2021 rule.

“We need to understand how car company lobbyists drove the Trump administration’s shortsighted decision to consider rolling back these crucial standards,” said Vera Pardee, a senior attorney with the center’s Climate Law Institute. “Helping the dirtiest vehicles stay on the roads will overheat our planet while ceding competitive advantages to manufacturers that can satisfy strong standards in Asian and European markets.”