Car Emission Chaos and Judicial Overreach

By September 12, 2007Energy, Global Warming

From The Detroit News:

In a major blow to automakers, a Vermont judge rejected car companies’ efforts to block 11 states from adopting California’s stricter vehicle emissions requirements….

At issue is Vermont’s decision, along with nine other states, to adopt California’s 2004 tailpipe emission rules. Beginning in 2009, the regulations require automakers to increase the fuel economy of vehicles by about 25 percent to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which have been linked to global warming.

General Motors Corp., DaimlerChrysler AG and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a Washington trade association that represents automakers, along with several dealerships, filed federal lawsuits to bar the new rules from taking effect in California, Rhode Island and Vermont.

State and local regulations have a reasonable basis when they deal with local phenomena, for example, sulfur dioxide or soot and ash. The argument now, apparently, is that states should also be able to regulate gasses (exhausts) blamed for creating a global phenomenon. And so we should have 50 different emissions standards, or California should by default get to set standards for Vermont, Alabama and Utah.

(As a political matter, what that will produce is a series of candidates and officials one upping themselves, a Charlie Crist in Florida trying to prove he’s greener that Governor Schwarzenegger. Yeah…”Judge Issues Pro-Pandering Ruling on Emissions.”)

This is just one judge’s ruling, which one assumes will be appealed, but in the meantime, Congress should certainly consider the approach raised earlier by Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA), who proposed legislation to establish federal preemption on emissions standards. Certainly a more logical approach than a regulatory regime requiring production of scores of different versions of the same car to meet each state’s different standards.

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