Federal Court Rules Against Car Manufacturers; Pressure Now on Bush Administration

A federal district court has ruled against the auto industry’s attempt to stop California from requiring cleaner cars. The ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Ishii now puts pressure on the Bush Administration to either allow the important environmental measure to take effect or, once again, block an effort to combat greenhouse gases.

California has a unique status under the Clean Air Act — it can require more stringent requirements than other states (which are locked into a national standard on car emissions). Other states can then follow California. California wants to decrease tailpipe emissions from cars, trucks and sports utility vehicles — setting new standards in 2004. The industry sued to block or at least delay the process.  They can be expected to launch an appeal in a further effort to delay the standards.

Notably, the Bush administration did nothing to support the state and has not yet decided whether to grant the needed waiver to allow the standards to take effect. The suspicion is that the Administration was hoping that a court would allow it to avoid the embarrassing prospect of again blocking major environmental reform. This forced California and 14 other states to sue the agency in November to force the EPA to act.

The court rejected the industry’s argument that it was the federal government’s responsibility to establish one uniform fuel economy standard. For a comparison of federal and California standards, click here

Now the Bush Administration is at the moment of truth that it has hoped to avoid. If it denies the waiver, it confirms that the Bush Administration will go down in history as the biggest example of “industry capture” in history. The Administration has prevented meaningful reductions on both the international and domestic levels as international scientists have become increasingly alarmed at a global crisis. For years, Bush relied on his own dubious scientific knowledge to reject the conclusions of his own EPA experts in the area. Now, he seems eager to portray a willingness to act but no real action has occurred. After defeating the industry (pending appeal), California and these other states now have to force the Administration to move in support of public health against a concerted industry lobbying push. No easy task.

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One thought on “Federal Court Rules Against Car Manufacturers; Pressure Now on Bush Administration”

  1. I think the Auto-Manufacturers would be better off avoiding the argument that it is a federal issue. They might end up with far more restrictive standards. Interesting case though. Jesus and the Devil were brothers.

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