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Sunday, October 21, 2007

California plans to sue feds to enforce auto emissions law

24 hours newsSAN FRANCISCO -- California plans to sue the Bush administration next week to demand action on the state's request to restrict greenhouse emissions from cars and trucks.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office says the state has waited too long for a decision from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

California wants to start implementing a 2002 state law that limits auto emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global warming. But it needs EPA's approval because the statute is stricter than federal clean-air standards.

California requested federal permission to enforce the state law in December 2005.

California's auto emissions law is a model for similar statutes passed in 11 other states.

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Schwarzenegger's govt to sue Bush administration

It seems that Arnold Schwarzenegger's personality has not changed, but at least now he is fighting for a non-fictional good cause. Arnold Schwarzenegger has become the Governor of California and he seems to have taken real responsibility for his position. This way, after the state he governs has expected for about two years to receive a waiver from the Environment Protection Agency for allowing it to implement a tough state law that would crack down on the greenhouse gas emissions, Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to sue the EPA in cour

SILICON VALLEY: California plans to sue the Bush administration to demand action on a long-stalled request to allow state government to limit auto emissions connected to global warming.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office said that California had waited too long for a decision from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the suit will be filed next week in a Washington, D.C., federal court.

The most prominent Republican governor suing the Bush administration sends a powerful message, which I hope will influence Congress," California Attorney General Jerry Brown said.

In December 2005, the state asked the EPA for permission to enforce the new California vehicle emission law, which served as model for similar laws in 11 other states. California needs the EPA approval to implement the new law because it is more stringent than federal clean-air standards.

California, which leads the nation in environmental issues, sees tough vehicle emission laws as a major part of the solution to global warming.

The California Air Resources Board estimates the new law would cut exhaust emissions in cars and light trucks by 25 per cent and in larger trucks and SUVs by 18 per cent.

Under the new rules, California would require automakers to use better air conditioners, more efficient transmissions and smaller engines.

The EPA held a public hearing in May and has promised a decision by the end of the year. But California said it has run out of patience and will go to court Wednesday, the deadline that Schwarzenegger set in April.

Major environmental groups are supporting the state in defense of its law and have also served notice on the EPA.

Pre Related

California Governor Gray Davis Signs Landmark Law Designed to Cut Car Exhaust Emissions

California Governor Gray Davis signed a landmark bill into law on July 22, 2002 designed to cut car exhaust emissions. The new law is the nation's first to require automakers to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide, in an effort to curb global warming. The California law takes advantage of a unique loophole that allows the state to set its own air quality standards independent of the federal government.

The law requires the California Air Resources Board to obtain the "maximum feasible" cuts in greenhouse gases emitted by all non-commercial vehicles (cars as well as light-duty trucks and sport utility vehicles) in model year 2009 and beyond. The standards will apply to automakers' fleet averages, rather than each individual vehicle, and carmakers will be able to partially achieve the standards by reducing pollution from non-auto sources (e.g. factories, etc.). The regulations would not take effect until January 1, 2006, but give automakers until 2009 to come up with technological changes or modifications to comply with the new standards.

"This is the first law in America to substantively address the greatest environmental challenge of the 21st century," Davis said. "In time, every state - and hopefully every country - will act to protect future generations from the threat of global warming. For California, that time is now."

This law opens a new chapter in the long history of the confrontation between California and carmakers, reminiscent of the tussle that started in the early 1990s over the state's insistence that the industry had to sell a set number of "zero-emission" cars yearly in the state or face exclusion from the market's biggest market.

With legal challenges pending, that project is still sputtering along, although it has been substantially watered down after the authorities were persuaded that battery development - the only practical zero-emissions technology - was and remained far from a realistic option. Legal challenges are pending.

Auto industry interest groups claim it would not be practicable to build a special line of vehicles tailored to emissions standards currently exclusive to California, without sharply raising prices. This argument, as with the early stance against battery cars, remains to be proved. Auto industry lobbyists, who strongly oppose the California law, calling it "hush money" to the environmental movement and saying it will do little to decrease global warming while mandating expensive technological innovations that will deprive Californians of the big cars and trucks they love, have vowed to challenge it in federal court by invoking federal laws that reserve for Congress the power to set fuel economy standards.

"Federal law and common sense prohibit each state from developing its own fuel economy standards," Josephine Cooper, President of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in a statement this week. "We expect to challenge successfully the implementation of this law in federal court." William Fay, president of the American Highway Users Alliance, a driver advocacy group, said in a statement, Gov. Davis has triggered government fiat that will curtail every Californian's right to choose the safest and most appropriate vehicle for themselves and their families.

Davis said the auto industry was wrong to fight the measure, which he called a "historic step." He said, "The technology is available. It's affordable. And it's widely utilized in other countries. We're merely asking business to do what business does best: innovate, compete, find solutions to problems and do it in a way that strengthens the economy."

"Opponents of this bill say the sky is falling," the Governor continued. "But they said it about unleaded gasoline. They said it about catalytic converters. They said it about seat belts and air bags. But the sky is not falling. It's just getting a whole lot cleaner."

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