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ACTION TIMELINE

November 15, 2007 – In the landmark case Center for Biological Diversity v. National Highway Traffic Administration, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals announced its ruling that the Bush administration violated the law by ignoring global warming when it set inadequate gas-mileage standards for SUVs and pickup trucks.

March 28, 2008 – The Department of Transportation began its environmental review of the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for passenger vehicles in response to the November 2007 court ruling.

August 18, 2008 – The Center filed comments highlighting legally fatal flaws in the Bush administration’s latest inadequate fuel economy standards for cars, pickups and SUVs. On the same day, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the administration’s request to revisit the court’s Center for Biological Diversity v. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ruling.

March 27, 2009 – The administration of President Barack Obama issued corporate average fuel economy standards for cars, trucks and SUVs for model year 2011 that were significantly lower than the standards proposed by the Bush administration in 2008.

April 2, 2009 – The Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed finding that greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles endanger both public health and welfare. Unfortunately, the Obama administration failed to accompany the proposed endangerment finding with any actual proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

May 19, 2009 – President Obama announced a plan to increase national gas-mileage standards for cars, trucks and SUVs to 35.5 mpg by 2016, ahead of the existing deadline to achieve 35 mpg by 2020. The announcement was an important step forward but failed to propose the ambitious standards needed.

June 30, 2009 – In a critical step to combat global warming, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted California a long-delayed waiver for the state’s greenhouse gas-reduction law for new vehicles. The action reversed President Bush’s denials of the waiver request in 2007 and 2008.

September 15, 2009 – The Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency announced details of the first national plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars, light-duty trucks and SUVs. According to the EPA, the rule would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 950 million metric tons and save some 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the covered vehicles.

April 17, 2009  – The EPA issued a preliminary finding that greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles endanger both public health and welfare, but the agency failed to propose any regulations to reduce those greenhouse gas emissions.

December 7, 2009 – The Center applauded the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gas pollution constitutes a threat to public health and welfare under the Clean Air Act.

April 1, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Transportation and the EPA finalized national regulations of greenhouse gas emissions from cars, light-duty trucks and SUVs. The standards, an important and historic step, were a significant improvement on the status quo yet still left the United States far behind other countries in fuel economy.

October 1, 2010 – The EPA and Department of Transportation announced their intent to improve fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks. The most ambitious of proposals would increase fuel efficiency by 6 percent a year, which would mean U.S. fuel efficiency would be approximately 37 miles per gallon for new cars and light trucks in 2017.

August 9, 2011 – The administration finalized the first-ever combined fuel-economy and greenhouse gas standards today for new medium- and heavy-duty trucks, similar to those currently in place for passenger cars and light trucks. However, the new truck standards — while they reduce emissions more than doing nothing would — would still allow the total carbon pollution from this sector to increase.

November 16, 2011 – The Obama administration proposed new fuel-emission standards for passenger cars and light trucks falling far short of the need to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas pollution — and also far short of what was achievable. 

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DanEckert