The author of today's post, Jim Tripp, is General Counsel at Environmental Defense. Working with state agencies and other environmental groups, Tripp presented arguments in the Vermont trial this spring.
We won an important victory today. A federal judge in Vermont ruled against U.S. automakers' attempt to block states from setting new rules limiting global warming pollution from automobiles. In his ruling, Judge William K. Sessions III said that the auto industry failed to prove that it could not safely meet the tailpipe standards.
A number of environmental groups joined the State of Vermont in defending the case, including us at Environmental Defense, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.
So can Vermont now implement the tighter emissions requirements? Not quite yet.
It all started in California back in 2002, with the Pavley Global Warming Bill. After the new emissions regulations were adopted, California requested a waiver from the EPA to put the tougher requirements into effect.
First the EPA said that it had no jurisdiction over CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act. That didn't work. This past April, the Supreme Court ruled that EPA did have the authority to regulate CO2 emissions, and was required to do so.
But California is still waiting for EPA's ruling on its waiver, and so are 14 other states who have adopted the same emissions requirements. Environmental Defense has filed a notice of intent to sue the EPA if they do not rule on the California waiver request by November 2007.
In the meantime – just in case the EPA gave California its waiver – automakers filed suit in California, Vermont, and Rhode Island objecting to the tougher standards. A judge postponed the California case until the Vermont case was decided. Our victory today creates a precedent that strengthens our position when the California case is heard.
We haven't won the Pavley war yet, but we are one step closer having won this important battle.