EMA Files Amicus Brief Challenging NHTSA’s Fuel Economy Standards

On December 1, 2022, an amicus brief was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. on behalf of EMA and other associations challenging NHTSA’s fuel-economy standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks.

The standards will require automobile manufacturers to obtain a fleet-wide average of 49 miles per gallon for model-year 2026, a standard that can be met only by converting a significant percentage of their fleets to electric vehicles.

EMA’s brief is premised on the NHTSA standard being a de facto electric-vehicle mandate, which NHTSA lacks the power to require.

A principal basis for EMA’s position is the “major questions doctrine” applied by the Supreme Court to invalidate the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate, its eviction moratorium, and its attempt to eliminate coal-fired generating plants.

All of these cases involved broad policy questions having a major impact on the nation’s economy. As such, they are outside the purview of federal agencies unless Congress clearly and unequivocally grants an agency the power to decide them.

Enforcing an electric-vehicle mandate will also have a major impact on the economy by ultimately eliminating an entire class of internal combustion-powered vehicles.

EMA’s brief argues that Congress did not provide NHTSA with such sweeping authority, and, in fact, it prohibited NHTSA from considering electric vehicles in promulgating its fuel-economy standards.

The federal Court of Appeals decision in this case is likely to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, which has shown a willingness to apply the “major questions doctrine” in cases like this.

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