US District Judge Anthony Ishii (Eastern District of California) today ruled that both the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of California are equally empowered under the Clean Air Act to set regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. The court also ruled that California regulations do not conflict with federal authority.
Under the decision, the Court rejected a challenge that US foreign policy and federal fuel economy laws preempt state authority to curb emissions. The Court also ruled that if the EPA grants the waiver for the implementation of the GHG rules, enforcement of the regulations by California or by any other state adopting the AB 1493 Regulations will be consistent with federal law.
The ruling came in a case that originally began three years ago (7 December 2004), when some California autodealers, supported by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM), filed a suit seeking judgement that the California GHG regulations (which require an approximate 30% reduction in vehicular greenhouse gas emissions, starting with model year 2009) were pre-empted by federal law.
This is the fourth major legal victory for California and a stinging rejection of the automobile industry’s legal challenge to greenhouse gas emissions standards.—California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr.
The court held that there is no conflict between EPA’s or California’s duty to regulate emissions and the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s authority to set fuel efficiency standards. The court held that mileage standards should be harmonized with the California’s emission regulations.
The decision leaves the EPA as the last remaining roadblock to implementing the law. Under the Clean Air Act, California can adopt this standard if it obtains a waiver from the EPA. After two years of delay on this request, Attorney General Brown and Governor Schwarzenegger sued the EPA in November, demanding a response. (Earlier post.)
Fourteen other states—the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the States of New York, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection—joined California as interveners in that lawsuit against EPA.
In September, a Vermont District Court also ruled in favor of the state regulations, rejecting a similar challenge from the automobile industry. (Earlier post.)
EPA has said it will make a decision by the end of the year.