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Bush administration sued over Gulf War-era alternative fuel law

The Associated Press
Thursday January 03, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO — Three environmental organizations filed suit Wednesday alleging the Bush administration is violating a Gulf War-era alternative fuels law signed by President Bush’s father. 

The suit filed in federal court in San Francisco accuses 18 federal agencies of failing to follow the 1992 Energy Policy Act, which requires federal agencies to buy vehicles that run on alternative fuels. 

Agencies with vehicle fleets in larger cities were required to phase in purchases of alternative fuel vehicles starting in 1996, with 75 percent of the vehicles to use alternative fuels by 1999 and thereafter. 

However, the environmental groups note that the law allows the agencies to buy vehicles that can use alternative fuel, but does not require the vehicles to actually run on the alternative fuel. They contend some agencies have bought vehicles that will run on either gasoline or ethanol, but then run them on gasoline. 

That, the groups allege, violates both the law’s goal of cutting the use of petroleum and a 2000 Presidential Executive Order. 

Among the alleged violators is the U.S. Department of Energy, which is charged with enforcing the act. Others include the departments of Justice, Transportation, Commerce, Defense, Agriculture, Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Officials could not be reached to respond after business hours in Washington, D.C. 

Earthjustice attorney Jay Tutchton accused the agencies of “wholesale noncompliance” with the law. The environmental law firm is representing the Center for Biological Diversity, Bluewater Network and the Sierra Club in this suit. 

For instance, the suit alleges the Department of Commerce purchased only 17 percent alternative fuel vehicles in 2000. The suit alleges the EPA purchased 35 percent alternative fuel vehicles in 1998, well short of the 50 percent then required by the law.