For Immediate Release, September 27, 2007
Kassie Siegel, Center for Biological Diversity, (760) 366-2232 x 302 or (951) 961-7972
Deborah Sivas, Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, (650) 723-0325 or (650) 269-2489
Conservationists Sue Bush Administration for
Suppression of Global Warming Documents
SAN FRANCISCO— Today the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the White House Office of Management and Budget for stonewalling on a request for documents related to global warming and fuel-economy standards for SUVs and pick-up trucks filed under the Freedom of Information Act.
The documents at issue relate to fuel-economy standards for model year 2008-2011 SUVs and pick-up trucks sold in the United States. Despite a requirement to set gas mileage at the “maximum feasible level,” the United States has the lowest standards of any industrialized nation.
“The hallmark of the Bush administration is 'secret government,' often used to cover its violations of the law,” said Deborah Sivas, director of the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, the lead attorney on the case. “The Freedom of Information Act is designed to keep our government open and accountable. A victory in this case should bring important documents to light which show how the White House Office of Management and Budget influenced the fuel economy standards.”
“Higher gas-mileage standards are a big part of the solution to global warming,” said Kassie Siegel, climate program director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The vehicles regulated by the fuel standards at issue would emit 2.8 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution over their lifetimes — nearly six times the entire annual emissions of the state of California. The public has a right to know how and why the low standards were chosen.”
Those fuel-economy standards at issue are also the subject of separate lawsuits currently pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the Center and other parties, including the state of California, challenge the Bush government’s failure to account for global warming when it set the low national fuel-economy standards.
Those consolidated cases were considered by the Ninth Circuit on May 14, 2007. A decision could be issued at any time.
Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act in the wake of the 1973-1974 oil embargo as a technology-forcing statute to conserve energy and oil. The law requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to set corporate average fuel-economy (“CAFÉ”) standards for SUVs and light trucks at the “maximum feasible” level. The challenged standards are for 22.5, 23.1, and 23.5 miles per gallon for upcoming model years 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 35,000 members dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.