The suit, which the states are to announce on Tuesday, contends that the administration did not do a rigorous enough analysis of the environmental benefits of fuel economy regulations, as required by law, before issuing new rules last month for S.U.V.’s, pickup trucks and minivans. The suit will also claim that the government did not consider the impact of gasoline consumption on climate change when devising the new rules.
While the states have initiated a number of suits over Washington’s environmental policies, the new suit is the first to take aim at federal fuel economy regulations. With gasoline reaching $3 a gallon in many parts of the country, there has been a broad outcry for action but little consensus on what to do.
Senate Republicans have proposed a $100 rebate to help taxpayers pay gas bills, a proposal that has been met with criticism even from the right, while President Bush has asked for Congressional authority to revise mileage regulations for passenger cars. He already has the authority to do so for S.U.V.’s and other trucks.
California will be lead plaintiff in the suit, which also includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as New York City and the District of Columbia. Many of the same states have teamed up in other environmental suits against the administration, though with mixed success; a recent suit against the Environmental Protection Agency over power plant emissions was dismissed.
"It’s disappointing when you see power exercised to benefit the auto industry rather than consumers or environmental challenges," said Bill Lockyer, the attorney general of California, discussing the Bush administration’s fuel economy rules.
The attorney general of Massachusetts, Thomas F. Reilly, said in a statement, "At a time when we are all facing a gas crisis, the Bush administration is pushing for fuel economy standards that appear to be authored by the oil and auto industries."