02/27/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Car Companies Take Bailout Money And Sue Government To Prevent Stricter Fuel-Efficiency Standards

It might be hard to find a better example of biting the hand that feeds you. American automakers, the subject of much attention and beneficiaries of a major financial bailout, are suing the federal government:

Late last year, when Congress was debating whether to bail out the American automakers, one question that came up was: should the car companies be able to use money they got from the taxpayers to turn around and fight the taxpayers? By that point, the auto industry had already spent several years in court battling California and other states to prevent them from imposing stricter new fuel efficiency standards.

But the Washington Independent points out that the automakers already pledged to meet the emissions standards (and bragged about how well they'll do):

Business strategies submitted to Congress, as part of a December bailout debate, by Ford and General Motors would, if achieved, make the companies compliant with California's proposed emission reforms -- the same changes the companies have opposed for years -- according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

Ford, for example, boasted that it would raise its fuel-economy standards 26 percent above 2005 levels by 2012, and 36 percent above the same baseline by 2015. General Motors, for its part, vowed fleet-wide fuel-efficiencies of 37.3 miles a gallon for cars, and 27.5 mpg for trucks, by 2012. (Chrysler, which did not include fuel-efficiency estimates in its report, was not a subject of the NRDC analysis.)