A 26-state coalition is suing the Biden administration over a new rule that increases the average fuel economy of passenger cars and light trucks.

The states filed a legal challenge in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to block the agency’s new fuel economy requirements for passenger cars and light trucks, which the agency finalized on June 7. Provided it withstands legal challenges, the rule will require auto manufacturers to adhere to an industry-wide fleet average of approximately 50.4 miles per gallon for passenger cars and light trucks by 2031 – a move that, critics say, would force car companies to drastically increase the share of their fleets that are electric vehicles (EVs), and, in turn, would negatively impact consumer pocketbooks and American energy independence.

 

“Congress did not give the NHTSA such power to reshape an industry that would ultimately affect the pocketbooks of consumers— this rule is legally flawed and unrealistic,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a press release announcing the legal challenge on Wednesday. “This will undoubtedly cause the United States to be dependent on other nations like China for our energy needs and will undermine American energy security by increasing demand and straining power grids.”

Critics also cite concerns about Biden-era inflation, which surpassed 20% this month, and a lack of demand for EVs – 46% of respondents were unlikely or very unlikely to purchase an EV, according to a recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute.

“President Biden has spent billions and mobilized the entire federal government to push EVs, and Americans still aren’t buying it,” said Kentucky Attorney General Russell Coleman. “Even if they wanted an EV, fewer and fewer families could afford one because of historic inflation…Kentuckians want the Biden Administration to focus on the crisis at the border, violent crime and the surge of deadly drugs instead of picking its favorites in the auto industry.”

The NHTSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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