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In re In re Center for Auto Safety

Citation: 17 ELR 20052
No. No. 85-1348, 793 F.2d 1346/24 ERC 1660/(D.C. Cir., 06/20/1986)

The court holds that consumer organizations that promote energy conservation have standing on behalf of their members in a suit to compel the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to comply with statutory deadlines for issuing fuel economy standards for light trucks, and the NHTSA's pattern of delay in issuing the standards for the 1986-1988 model years requires the court to retain jurisdiction until the agency issues the 1989 model year standards. The court first holds that petitioners have standing as representatives of their members. As shown in the companion case Center for Auto Safety, 17 ELR 20039, the constitutional requirements are met, since lower fuel economy standards injure the members' interests in the availability of light trucks of the highest possible fuel efficiency. In this case, the members are also injured by the industry's impaired ability to comply with fuel economy standards that NHTSA issues with inadequate leadtimes. The court, for the reasons it cited in Center for Auto Safety, also finds that the prudential requirements for standing are satisfied. The court next holds that petitioners' request that the court compel timely issuance of the standards for future model years is not moot. Although petitioners' requests for relief for specific model years was mooted by NHTSA's issuance of the 1987 and 1988 model year standards, the agency's pattern of missing statutory deadlines remains. NHTSA has failed to show that there is no reasonable expectation that this pattern will continue. On the merits, the court holds that NHTSA's delays in issuing the standards have been unreasonable in view of the importance of providing the industry with leadtime to develop the technology necessary to comply with the standards. The court therefore retains jurisdiction until the agency publishes the final model year 1989 standards.

Judge Scalia dissents for the reasons cited in Center for Auto Safety.

Counsel are listed at 17 ELR 20039

Before: EDWARDS, SCALIA and BUCKLEY, Circuit Judges.