Vermont Court Rules States Can Control Greenhouse Emissions from Cars
These standards are expected to reduce global warming emissions from cars some 30 percent when fully implemented in 2016.
The lawsuit was brought by U.S. automakers and dealers, who claimed Vermont regulations setting limits on these emissions are burdensome and cause undue economic harm to the industry while not addressing global warming.
William K. Sessions III, Chief U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Vermont, rejected all the manufacturers’ and dealers’ challenges to the state greenhouse gas emissions standards, ruling that auto manufacturers can meet the new standards adopted by California and the other states.
Judge Sessions affirmed that Vermont’s 2005 law to control greenhouse gas emissions is not preempted by the federal law.
Under the Clean Air Act, California and the 14 states can adopt stricter than federal standards by obtaining a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but the federal agency has not acted on California’s request for a waiver, made in 2005.
In response to the ruling, California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said, “Unfortunately, today’s decision upholding California’s greenhouse gas emissions standards will turn out to be a hollow victory if the EPA persists in denying California’s waiver petition.”
The Bush administration has been “ducking California’s request since 2005,” Brown said. “We will haul the Bush administration into court if it persists in stalling on our request to regulate emissions from motor vehicles,” he warned.
In 2002, California adopted AB 1493 to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles to fight global warming. Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have enacted the California law and are also waiting for federal approval.
This ruling is viewed as a watershed moment in the legal battle over the California Standards and is expected to influence rulings in similar cases pending in California and Rhode Island.
Thirteen of the affected governors have sent a letter to automakers asking the industry to support the governors’ commitment to address climate change. The governors asked the automotive executives to withdraw legal challenges to clean vehicle standards and work with the states to reverse the threat of global warming.
“We do not believe it is productive for your industry to continue to fight state implementation of clean tailpipe standards,” the governors said. “We would prefer to follow a path that encourages innovation not litigation.”
“The public is demanding that states, in the absence of federal action, take real and meaningful steps to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases,” the governors wrote. “Ensuring that our automobiles have a lower carbon footprint is an essential piece of our greenhouse gas reduction strategy.”
The governors explained that in the United States, the passenger vehicle/light duty truck sector is second only to the electricity sector in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted.