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Automakers challenge California greenhouse gas rule

8 December 2004

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and a group of automobile dealers in California’s Central Valley have sued the California Air Resources Board (ARB) over ARB’s greenhouse gas rule.

The rule, adopted in September 2004, mandates reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from automobiles sold in California. The standards would phase in from 2009 to 2016, with an average GHG emission reduction of 22% in 2012 and 30% in 2016, compared to today’s vehicles.

Car manufacturers have been opposing the rule on the grounds that it is a veiled form of fuel economy regulation, rather than an emission standard. California has the right to establish her own emission standards, but fuel economy remains under federal authority. US fuel economy regulations are developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said that consumers would suffer higher prices and severely restricted choice of vehicles if each state were deciding for itself which new vehicles ought to be produced and sold. The Alliance also said consumer tax incentives, rather than regulations, should be used to promote advanced vehicle technologies.

The law suit was criticized by environmental organizations. “It is disappointing—though not surprising—that the same automakers buying ads touting their environmental commitments are suing to prevent California from protecting its citizens from the effects of global warming,” said Dan Becker, Washington Director of the Sierra Club’s Global Warming Program. “If these automakers are so committed to reducing global warming emissions, why are they suing to prevent California from doing just that?” continued Becker. Some environmental organizations also praised Honda for not taking part in the law suit.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of 9 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Source: Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (press release)