Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Good news for controlling auto CO2 emissions

Federal Judge William K. Sessions has ruled that California and 14 other, mainly New England, states have the right to regulate automotive carbon dioxide emissions. Couple that with the Supreme Court ruling this summer than the Environmental Protection Agency has CO2 pollution regulation powers, and I just don’t see automakers having a chance of winning this case on appeal — with one exception noted below.

The suit was in Vermont, which adopted a copy of California’s pioneering CO2 control law. California, by law, has the right to go beyond federal standards on pollution levels, with the granting of an EPA waiver. Other states have the right to adopt California laws when California goes beyond federal standards, but cannot go beyond federal standards on their own.

Here’s the proposed California law:

Under the California law, the emissions reductions for cars in the 2016 model year could be as much as 30 percent or more below current levels.

California regulators have required that by 2012 emissions from cars and light trucks be reduced by 25 percent from 2005 levels. For larger trucks and sport utility vehicles, 18 percent cuts were required.

Sessions specifically cited the SCOTUS ruling; he also rejected the idea that California, and the other states following it, are just trying to regulate gas mileage, which is purely a federal issue.

The one possible reason Sessions could be overturned? University of Vermont law professor Patrick Parenteau noted that California hasn’t gotten its EPA waiver yet (a ruling is planned before the end of this year) and thus Sessions could be overturned on grounds of jumping the gun.

I say that’s tortuous reasoning, as the automakers jumped the gun by bringing the suit in the first place.

Otherwise, Sessions sounds like he made himself well-informed on the technological feasibility of the California requirements; he reject auto industry arguments this could cost as many as 65,000 jobs.

Poppycock; people are going to buy new cars, period.