In a major victory over carmakers and their attempts to rebuff state measures aimed to rein in GHG emissions, Vermont won a court ruling last week mandating that auto companies work to develop new technologies to raise their fuel economy standards. The presiding judge - William Sessions III, sitting in the U.S. District Court in Burlington - rejected the carmakers' argument that the proposed state rules conflicted with rules set forth by the federal government and that they imposed unnecessary and costly burdens on them:
The new regulations, which are slated to start phasing in as of 2009, will require auto companies to reduce their vehicles' emissions by 30% by 2016. According to auto executives, that is tantamount to mandating a rise in average fuel economy standards to 43.7 mpg. Environmental groups that sided with Vermont in the case are confident that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will approve a waiver — applied for by California under the Clean Air Act — that will allow the state to establish more strict anti-emissions standards than the federal government's (and for others to then piggyback on them).
"There is no question that the GHG (greenhouse gas) regulations present great challenges to automakers. History suggests that the ingenuity of the industry, once put in gear, responds admirably to most technological challenges. In light of the public statements of industry representatives, (the) 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 GHG regulations."
Similar cases are set to go to trial in California (as early as Oct. 22) and Rhode Island, and the auto makers are likely to appeal the decision. Here's hoping sound science and environmental policy win the day for those as well.
See also: ::New CAFE Standards? Don't Break Out the Champagne Yet, ::No Increase in CAFE or the Dog Gets It
Image courtesy of zappowbang via flickr