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15 states sue U.S. company over delayed hike in automaker emissions penalties By Reuters

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© Reuters. The exhaust system of a Volkswagen Passat TDI diesel car can be seen in Esquibien, France.

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Fifteen states on Tuesday sued the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after agreeing last month under then-President Donald Trump to an auto industry demand to delay the start of dramatically higher penalties for businesses that do not meet fuel efficiency requirements.

Attorneys-General, including California and New York, filed lawsuits in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals over the decision announced in the last few days of the Trump administration that could save the industry hundreds of millions of dollars or more.

NHTSA announced last month that the final rule will significantly reduce future burdens on the industry by up to $ 1 billion annually.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on Twitter the decision “solidifies Trump’s (government) legacy to put industry before public health”.

NHTSA and a group of major automakers didn’t comment immediately on Tuesday.

Last month the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council sued NHTSA for delaying sentences.

Trump’s move followed an August appellate court ruling that overturned the government’s 2019 decision to suspend an ordinance that more than doubled penalties for automakers who fail to meet fuel efficiency requirements.

Congress in 2015 ordered that federal agencies adjust civil sanctions to accommodate inflation. In response, the NHTSA enacted regulations that increased fines from $ 5.50 to $ 14 for every 0.1 mile per gallon a new vehicle consumed above required standards.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now known as Stellantis NV, paid a civil penalty of $ 79 million for failing to meet fuel consumption requirements for 2017 after paying $ 77.3 million for failing to meet 2016 requirements.

Environmental groups urged the Trump administration to keep the increased penalties, noting that fuel fines in the US had lost nearly 75% of their original value since 1975, having increased only once – from $ 5 to $ 5 , $ 50 in 1997.

President Joe Biden has separately ordered a review of the Trump administration’s decisions to reset vehicle emissions standards by 2026 and prevent California from setting emission limits on vehicle tailpipes.

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