Thursday, September 10, 2009

Auto Dealers & U.S. Chamber Sue EPA On Auto CO2

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is being sued in federal court by auto dealers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the agency's decision to let California and other states regulate automobile greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. The two industry groups fear that the EPA's decision will set a precedent for California to set stricter emission standards for a raft of different emitting sectors. Auto manufacturers earlier this year agreed to not fight against a national emission standard the Obama administration plans to implement. They have received of dollars in federal stimulus funding to stay open.

To set precedent and preserve California's ability to apply for tougher new auto-emission standards than the administration is currently drafting once they expire in 2017, the EPA granted California the right to move ahead on its own. With what is known as the California waiver, more than a dozen other states were ready to move ahead with identical standards. Auto companies are concerned both about the stricter standards that would make manufacturing more expensive and about having two different standards across the U.S.

The petition for review in the D.C. federal court of appeals targets the Clean Air Act provision that allows California to appeal for a waiver to set its own environmental standards when there are compelling and extraordinary circumstances. The petition argues that the provision is only allowed to address local or regional concerns, but greenhouse-gas emissions are an international concern. Opponents believe the suit attempts to undermine states' rights.

EPA is currently drafting greenhouse-gas regulations, including an official declaration that such emissions are a danger to public health and welfare. (WSJ, 9/10/09)

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