- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
A waiver from the EPA is good enough for a state to set tougher standards on its industries, according to a recent court decision. At issue was the federal EPA's decision to grant California's exemption from the federal clean air law so they can implement their own vehicle emissions standards. Another 14 states are seeking to adopt similar air programs.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the national Automobile Dealers Association requested that the appeals court review the waiver and find it unenforceable.
The court said the groups failed to show that a single member had been or would be damaged by the waiver; as a result the court dismissed the suit. The court said that the rule would impact the automakers and not dealers.
Notably, the reasoning was not environmental or federalist, but an assessment of injury to the Chamber and dealerships, which they could not demonstrate. However the decision includes language on state's rights that could open the door for many other regulations from states that supercede federal requirements:
...notwithstanding the absence of continuing injury to the petitioner automobile dealers, California retains a sovereign interest in being able to enforce its own regulations against automobile manufacturers -- just as states have a sovereign interest in enforcing state drug laws even if they coincide with federal drug laws. We will not vacate the waiver decision granting California this enforcement authority simply because the particular petitioners before us lack the requisite personal stake to sustain their challenge.Automobile manufacturers reached an agreement with the agency to not fight the EPA waiver and were not involved in the suit. The result of that agreement was that Congress established higher fuel economy standards. The decision could set a precedent for other air pollution controls by states.