Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C.S. §§ 4321-4347, requires a federal agency "to the fullest extent possible," to prepare a detailed statement on the environmental impact of major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. 42 U.S.C.S. § 4332(2)(C)(i); 40 C.F.R. § 1500.2 (2007). The purpose of NEPA is twofold: ensure that the agency will have available, and will carefully consider, detailed information concerning significant environmental impacts, and guarantee that the relevant information will be made available to the larger public audience. Environmental information must be provided before decisions are made and before actions are taken. NEPA expresses a Congressional determination that procrastination on environmental concerns is no longer acceptable. NEPA is the basic national charter for protection of the environment. 40 C.F.R. § 1500.1(a).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) rule set the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks for model years 2008-2011. Petitioners, the states, the District of Columbia, the City of New York, and the organizations, sought review of a final rule, 49 C.F.R. pt. 533, of NHTSA on the ground that it violated the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA), 49 U.S.C.S. §§ 32901 to 32919, and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C.S. §§ 4321-4347.
Was the Final Rule arbitrary and capricious?
The court remanded the case for the promulgation of new standards because the NHTSA's failure to monetize the value of carbon emissions reduction, set a backstop or overall fleet-wide average considering the nation's need to conserve energy, revise the passenger automobile/light truck classifications in order to close the sport utility vehicle loophole, and set fuel economy standards for all vehicles in the 8,500 to 10,000 pound gross vehicle weight rating class was arbitrary and capricious and contrary to the EPCA. The court required an environmental impact statement because the environmental assessment under NEPA was inadequate in that it did not evaluate the incremental and cumulative impact of emissions on climate change and the evidence of positive feedback mechanisms in the atmosphere raised a substantial question as to whether the stringency of the CAFE standards may have had a significant impact on the environment. The court held that the EPCA did not prohibit a transition period or the NHTSA's use of marginal cost-benefit analysis to set CAFE standards.