Vermont trial over state vehicle emissions standards begins

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 4/9/2007

One week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide emissions can be regulated as a pollutant, a trial in Vermont is the first of several to decide whether states may adopt tougher emissions standards than allowed by the federal government.

The Associated Press reported Monday that a civil suit filed in Vermont by “a coalition of automakers and car dealers” claims the best way to lower carbon dioxide emissions is to increase gas mileage for cars, trucks and SUVs.

Environmental organizations and several states, however, believe their argument is bolstered by the Clean Air Act. That law, enacted in the 1970s, allowed California to require tougher emissions standards than the federal government, The AP reported.

California adopted tougher emissions standards in 2005 to include carbon as a regulated pollutant beginning in 2009 automobile models. The law has since been adopted by 11 other states.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the EPA’s argument that the federal government’s fuel economy standards trumps state law simply because it is federal, and said it must regulate greenhouse gases unless it can find scientific reasoning not to do so.

Joe Rajkovacz, regulatory affairs specialist for OOIDA, said emissions standards for automobiles are a prequel for restricting over-the-road diesel engines used in trucking.

Rajkovacz is preparing to meet with the California Air Resources Board to discuss a proposed rule requiring existing trucks to meet 2004 emissions standards, he told Land Line.

The standards could be stringent enough that retro-fit exhaust systems may not work for certain older trucks, Rajkovacz said.

Rajkovacz said he asked one California official whether proposed rules to reduce diesel exhaust particulate matter for truckers who travel into California violate the Interstate Commerce Clause.

“The response I got back was, ‘if you want to use our air you will meet our standards,’ ” Rajkovacz said.

 – By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

Copyright © OOIDA