Brown decries new federal fuel standard

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown on Tuesday called the federal government's new fuel economy "a covert assault" on California's greenhouse gas regulations.

Brown, a Democrat, called the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's fuel plan "a shameful and unlawful assault on California's landmark vehicle emissions standard."

The attorney general also said the federal plan runs counter to legal precedent that established that emissions from cars, including greenhouse gases, are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of California, not the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

He said federal district courts in Vermont and the Eastern District of California ruled that California's authority to control greenhouse gas emissions cannot be annulled by the NHTSA.

The attorney general last year challenged the Bush administration's one mile per gallon fuel efficiency increase for light trucks from 22 to 23 miles per gallon by 2010.

In November, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Brown and directed the federal government to come up with a new plan, which was issued Tuesday.

The plan calls for a fuel efficiency increase to 31.6 miles per gallon by 2015. Brown said the target falls short of efforts in California to curb climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

The state aims to have a fuel efficiency standard estimated to be equivalent to 36 miles per gallon by 2016, the attorney general's office said.

California's law requires a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions standards from motor vehicles by 2016.

The state is ranked as the 12th biggest greenhouse gas contributor in the world.

For her part, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., responded to the federal plan by say that the Bush administration is ultimately "continuing to block climate change progress."

While supportive of boosting fuel efficiency standards, Pelosi said the White House is asserting that the state lacks the authority to move forward with its own greenhouse gas regulations.

"That is completely unjustified," Pelosi said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at

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