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EPA Denies California’s Request To Adopt Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards For New Motor Vehicles

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, (802) 828-0269

December 20, 2007 - Attorney General William H. Sorrell criticized a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denying California’s request for a waiver for its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) regulations for new motor vehicles. Vermont adopted emission standards that are identical to California’s and successfully defended them in federal court in Burlington earlier this year. In order for Vermont’s regulations to become effective, however, EPA needed to grant California’s request, which had been pending since December of 2005.

“It’s very disappointing. The Bush Administration gave the auto industry a huge undeserved gift,” said Sorrell. “Global warming threatens our environment and economy, so we will fight for our right to have these standards. Vermont will join an appeal of EPA’s decision,” he added.

Vermont’s regulations incorporate by reference regulations adopted by California. To date, 12 other states have adopted California’s regulations. The regulations establish one set of GHG emission standards for passenger cars, small trucks, and small Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), and another set for large trucks and large SUVs. The standards require automobile manufacturers to decrease fleetwide emissions on a graduated basis for each model year between 2009 and 2016.

The Vermont case began in November 2005, when General Motors, Daimler-Chrysler, two auto industry trade groups, and three Vermont dealers filed two separate lawsuits challenging Vermont’s GHG regulations. The State of New York and a number of environmental groups intervened in the case in support of Vermont. The court held a 16-day trial in April and May of this year, and then accepted final briefs in the middle of June.

On September 12, 2007, Chief Judge William K. Sessions III rejected the auto industry’s claim that the emission standards are actually fuel economy standards that conflict with the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act. He also ruled that the GHG emission standards do not interfere with the foreign policy powers of the President or Congress. The auto industry has appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. On December 12, 2007, a federal court in California issued a similar ruling upholding California’s regulations.

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