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Wednesday, 17 January 2007 00:51

Federal Judge Delays New California Air Rules

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slide25Yesterday a federal court judge postponed the trial over a lawsuit seeking to block a California law that if cleared for implementation will enforce the world's toughest vehicle-emission standards. U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii has also ordered the California Air Resources Board to delay enforcing tailpipe-emission standards for greenhouse gases. The case will now to go to trial Jan. 30. In his order, Ishii said it was best to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a related global warming case. According to David Doniger an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council which supports the new standards "It's a logical thing to do. The Supreme Court has the very same issue in front of it. We should wait to see what the highest court in the land is going to say." California passed the law regulating tailpipe standards for automobiles in 2002 as part of its effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The new standards were adopted in 2004.

slide26 The state of California has applied to the federal government for a waiver to let it implement the regulations under the Clean Air Act. Business interests led by a Central Valley car dealership and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers sued the state. They claim the rule is a de-facto mandate on fuel-economy standards, which can be set only by the federal government. California, is the world's 12th-largest producer of greenhouse gases. The auto rules are designed to cut emissions from cars and light trucks by 25 percent and from sport utility vehicles by 18 percent beginning in 2009. A spokesman for Attorney General Jerry Brown said the state is awaiting the Supreme Court's decision. "We feel confident when that happens we'll be able to make the next step to enforcing the California law," spokesman Gareth Lacy said.

slide27 The Supreme Court is expected to rule later this year in a Massachusetts case about whether greenhouse gases should be regulated under the Clean Air Act. At a hearing in September, attorneys for the auto manufacturers said the technology did not exist to meet the California standards or could not be applied in a cost-effective way to cars sold in the United States. They argued the rules would increase the cost of vehicles and eliminate some types of trucks used by farmers.

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