Environment News Service (ENS)

Automakers’ Case Against California on Hold


Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

FRESNO, California (ENS) - A federal judge in Fresno Tuesday postponed trial of the auto industry’s lawsuit against California’s limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles until the U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision in a related case.

Judge Anthony Ishii decided to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA before holding a lengthy and costly trial on the auto industry’s lawsuit.

The California Air Resources Board adopted the nation’s first regulation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars in compliance with a 2002 state law.

The standard requires automakers to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 22 percent by the 2012 model year and 30 percent by the 2016 model year.

“Judge Ishii has rebuffed the auto industry’s latest effort to block California’s landmark global warming law,” said David Doniger, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council in both the California and Supreme Court cases. “He has decided to wait for the Supreme Court’s word on whether the federal Clean Air Act covers the pollution that causes global warming.”

In the Massachusetts case, California, 11 other states, and environmental organizations, including the NRDC, are challenging the Bush administration’s claim that the Clean Air Act gives it no power to curb global warming pollution.

Judge Ishii ruled that the two cases pose such similar issues that the Supreme Court’s decision in the Massachusetts case is likely to control the outcome of the California case. The high court is expected to rule by June.

The automakers claim California’s global warming pollution standards conflict with the federal fuel economy law. Judge Ishii found that is basically the same argument the Bush administration and the auto industry are making in the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court decides the federal Clean Air Act does cover greenhouse gas emissions, then California’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles will be clear.

The state of California and all other parties – including both plaintiffs and defendants – agree that California cannot enforce its standards until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grants it a waiver under the Clean Air Act.

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