Bush administration response on car mileage riles governors
The fine print in a new federal plan forbids states from setting their own standards.
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Sixteen other states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, plus the District of Columbia – have adopted or announced their intention to adopt California's regulations. A story in the Imperial Valley (Calif.) News stated that:Skip to next paragraph
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" 'This fuel economy plan, while attractive on the surface, is a shameful and unlawful assault on California's landmark vehicle emissions standards,' Calif. Attorney General Jerry Brown said."
In the wake of the administration's CAFE announcement last week, the governors of a dozen states have written congressional leaders urging lawmakers to fight what they call "a cynical attempt by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to unilaterally rewrite the Clean Air Act and claim authority over greenhouse gas emissions," as stated in a press release from Governor Schwarzenegger's office. The release continued:
"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) argues that, because fuel economy is 'related to' greenhouse gases, the US Department of Transportation has the authority to deny state greenhouse gas regulations. NHTSA's proposal flies in the face of court rulings on existing law. The US Supreme Court found in Massachusetts v. EPA that the authority on which the states rely in regulating greenhouse gases from automobiles is 'a statutory obligation wholly independent of DOT's mandate to promote energy efficiency.' Two federal district courts have also specifically ruled that state vehicle regulations are not preempted by Congress's improvements to CAFE."
The governors also wrote the White House that "this attack completely undermines the cooperative federalism principles embodied in the Clean Air Act, and is an end run around 40 years of precedent under that law."
Meanwhile, California and the other states are following a typical political course under such circumstances: They're filing suit to force action under those earlier court decisions, including the US Supreme Court's 5-to-4 ruling a year ago that the EPA has the authority to regulate emissions from new cars and trucks under the Clean Air Act. An online report from Los Angeles radio station KCBS stated that:
" 'The EPA's failure to act in the face of these incontestable dangers is a shameful dereliction of duty,' Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said. The petition asks the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to require the EPA to act within 60 days."
The drama over motor vehicle emissions thus continues.