Four federal agencies have settled a lawsuit with environmental groups and agreed to buy thousands of alternative-fuel vehicles according to a December 1 report by the Associated Press.
Under the settlement, the Commerce, Labor and Transportation Departments and Veterans Administration admitted that they violated the federal Energy Policy Act. The agencies agreed to buy enough natural gas, electric, ethanol, propane and other alternative fuel vehicles to meet the law's requirements. That could be as many as 5,000 alt-fuel vehicles.
The Energy Policy Act, signed by George H.W. Bush in 1992, requires that 75 percent of the new cars and light trucks purchased by federal agencies run on alternative fuels. The federal government currently owns about 600,000 cars and light trucks.
In April, the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity and the San Francisco-based Bluewater Network sued 14 federal agencies. Since the lawsuit was filed, nine of the federal agencies have met the law's requirements or taken action to meet them, and the Central Intelligence Agency still hasn't fully reported its vehicle purchases.
The four agencies that settled Wednesday had the lowest percentage of alternative fuel vehicles. For example, only 3 percent of the Labor Department's new vehicles ran on alternative fuels, according to the settlement.
The environmental groups are still waiting for the federal court's decision on another part of the lawsuit that seeks to force the Energy Department to require large private fleets, such as those run by FedEx or UPS, to buy alternative fuel vehicles.