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Federal Appeals Court Upholds California's EPA Auto Emissions Exception
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May 02, 2011

Federal Appeals Court Upholds California's EPA Auto Emissions Exception

By Tracey E. Schelmetic
TMCnet Contributor

It’s no secret that when it comes to environmental issues, California often goes above and beyond federal regulations, often with the EPA’s blessing. It doesn’t always make everyone happy. In this instance, it’s the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Automobile Dealers Association who are distinctly not happy.

Looks like they’re going to have to remain that way.

On Friday, a federal appeals court rejected the two organizations’ challenge to the EPA's decision to allow California to cut greenhouse gas emissions from new cars sold in the state.

The U.S. CoC and the NADA had originally asked the appeals court to review the waiver the EPA gave California from a federal clean air law to allow the state to implement its own vehicle emissions standards, reported Reuters.

The EPA waiver went beyond California as 14 others states eventually adopted the same clean car program.

Automakers – those manufacturing the cars, not selling them – had already agreed not to fight the EPA waiver, which resulted in higher vehicle fuel economy requirements (as is often the case when California strikes out on its own).

However, the two trade groups, acting on behalf of their automobile dealer members, argued it was unreasonable for the EPA to give California a waiver for dealing with the worldwide environmental problem of global warming.

The appeal courts said it lacked jurisdiction to decide the lawsuit brought by the two trade groups against the EPA waiver and it dismissed the petition to review the agency’s decision.

The court said the Chamber lacked the authority to challenge the waiver because it “has not identified a single member who was or would be injured by EPA’s waiver decision.”

The court also said the automobile dealers group could not show where any of its members had suffered an “actual injury” from the EPA waiver.

“We will not vacate the waiver decision granting California this enforcement authority simply because the particular petitioners before us lack the requisite personal stake to sustain their challenge,” the court said.

The appeals court also noted that California's emissions standard regulates automakers and not automobile dealers.

“This is a major victory for the millions of Americans that are working together to unleash smart policies to break our dependence on oil, save families money at the gas pump and reduce dangerous pollution,” said the Environmental Defense Fund.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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