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Federal court affirms states right to regulate auto greenhouse gas emissions

[JURIST] The US District Court for the District of Vermont ruled [opinion, PDF] Wednesday that states have the power to regulate automobile greenhouse gas emissions. In Green Mountain Plymouth Dodge Jeep v. Crombie the court held that the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) [text] does not preempt state regulation of emission standards. Auto industry insiders, including General Motors, Daimler Chrysler [corporate websites], and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers [trade website], had testified that the heightened emissions standards adopted by states like California and Vermont [legislative materials] would not stop global warming but would cripple the automotive industry. The court rejected the latter claim, stating that the automotive industry "bears the burden of proving the regulations are beyond their ability to meet," and that

in light of the public statements of industry representatives, history of compliance with previous technological challenges, and the state of the record, the Court remains unconvinced automakers cannot meet the challenges of Vermont and California’s [...] regulations.
Lawyer Matt Pawa [firm website], who represented several environmental groups that joined the suit including Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Environmental Defense [advocacy websites], told JURIST that the decision was "a historic win for the planet and for the fight against global warming." AP has more.

Vermont's standards require a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2016. In July, New Jersey passed legislation to reduce greenhouse emissions [JURIST report], citing a lack of leadership on the federal level. Also in July, the US Supreme Court confirmed [JURIST report] that the Environmental Protection Agency [official website] has the authority to regulate automobile emissions and that it had not abdicated such responsibility under the Clean Air Act [text].

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