Appeals Court Rejects Challenge to California Clean Car Program

On Friday, a federal appeals court rejected a challenge to the EPA’s waiver that allowed California and 14 other states to implement their own vehicle emissions standards. The challenge was brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Automobile Dealers Association.

Automakers have not challenged the waiver which requires them to exceed the federal fuel economy requirements in order to sell their vehicles in the states that have been granted the waivers.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and NADA, representing automobile dealers from across the country, argued that the EPA waiver was unreasonable in that it granted special considerations for how California and the other 14 states that have adopted the clean car program deal with climate change.

In its rejection of the lawsuit, the federal appeals court stated that it lacked jurisdiction.

The court claimed that the NADA had not proven that any of its members had suffered an “actual injury” as the result of the EPA waiver. It also said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lacked the legal standing to challenge the California waver on the grounds it “has not identified a single member who was or would be injured by EPA’s waiver decision.”

In its decision to reject the petition, the court stated, “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.”

Further questioning the NADA’s legal standing, the court noted that the clean car program emission standards regulate automakers, not auto dealers which make up its membership.

The lawsuit also argued that automakers would be forced to engage in “mix-shifting” in order to sell their vehicles in states that have adopted the higher fuel economy standards. Mix-shifting is the practice of altering the mix of vehicles available to consumers in order to comply with fuel efficiency regulations. The NADA claimed that mix-shifting would mean auto dealers would not be able to offer certain models consumers want to buy.

The NADA cited a particular Ford dealership in its argument against mix-shifting. The court, however, stated that the NADA had “failed to establish that even if such mix- shifting were to be required, it would have an effect on the ability of the identified Ford dealers to meet their customers’ demands.”

In a statement, the Environmental Defense Fund heralded the court’s rejection of the lawsuit as “A major victory for the millions of Americans that are working together to unleash smart policies to break our dependence on oil, save families money at the gas pump and reduce dangerous pollution.”

The EPA has not yet commented on the court’s decision.

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