California Takes On Car Makers Over CO2

July 30, 2002
Filed under Trailer News

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California’s Governor Gray Davis has signed into law legislation that
makes the state the first to fight global warming by requiring lower
tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide.

Environmentalists hope to use the passage of the law in
California, the nation’s largest vehicle market, to reduce greenhouse
gas-forming emissions in the state and also force improvements in
vehicle fuel efficiency across the entire country.

The govenor said the new law would not impose new-vehicle or fuel
taxes and would not limit miles driven. It would not require smaller,
lighter or slower vehicles, nor limit SUV, minivan or any other type of
vehicle ownership, Davis said.

The new law augments the authority of the California Air Resources
Board (CARB) for regulating air pollution through the “maximum feasible
reduction” of greenhouse gases. It requires new vehicles sold in
California, seven years from now, to emit less of the gases that trap
heat in the atmosphere; however, it does not spell out the technology
needed to do so.

The CARB must develop its recommendations by 2005. The emissions
standard it sets will then apply to all cars and trucks from the 2009
model year onward. The best-known way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
from cars is to make vehicles that burn less fuel; car makers argued
from the start that the California measure was a backdoor attempt to go
around the federal government and, in effect, set a new national
fuel-efficiency standard.

California is the only state allowed under federal law to set
air-pollution standards higher than those imposed by the federal
government. Other states can then follow its lead, giving the state the
ability to set national standards.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group of all the
major car makers except Honda, announced that it would sue to challenge
the new law, arguing that it exceeded the state’s jurisdiction.
Manufacturers may attempt to overturn the law by challenging
California’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, as a
“pollutant.”

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