This is a huge blow to the Bush administration, and in particular a huge blow to their 11th hour efforts to f*ck with the energy bill to make it so that the EPA can pre-empt California’s standards. The judge has plainly stated that the arguments on behalf of preemption are absurd.
Here’s the full ruling. From the conclusion:
Pursuant to the foregoing discussion, the court concludes that both EPA and California, through the waiver process of section 209, are equally empowered through the Clean Air Act to promulgate regulations that limit the emission of greenhouse gasses, principally carbon dioxide, from motor vehicles. The court further concludes that the promulgation of such regulations does not interfere or conflict with NHTSA’s duty to set maximum feasible average mileage standards under EPCA. The court finds EPCA’s preemption of state laws that regulate vehicle fuel efficiency does not expressly preempt California’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through AB 1493. Because Congress intended there should be no conflict between EPA’s duty to protect public health and welfare and NHTSA’s duty to set fuel efficiency standards through EPCA, the doctrine of conflict preemption does not apply. To the extent the enforcement of California’s AB 1493 Regulations may be inconsistent with existing CAFE standards, EPCA provides that NHTSA has authority to reformulate CAFE standards to harmonize with the AB 1493 Regulations if, and when, such standards are granted waiver of preemption by EPA.
UPDATE: Here’s a statement from David Bookbinder, Sierra Club Chief Climate Counsel, who litigated the case:
Once again a judge has found the auto industry’s desperate attempts to stay mired in outdated, dirty technology completely without merit. Todayâ€™s decision is just one more reason why EPA should stop dragging its feet and grant the waiver California needs to move forward with this vital tool to combat global warming.
Just as we said earlier this year when we celebrated a similar victory in a Vermont court, instead of the automakers thinking of excuses, it’s time for them to put their immense know-how toward solving some of our most pressing problems. This ruling should compel the U.S. automakers to make the kind of clean, efficient cars Americans want — the kind that foreign automakers have used to surge to record profits as the U.S. auto industry buckled under the weight of its gas guzzlers. This ruling is good for the environment, good for America, and, ultimately, good for the automakers.
It’s now time for the Bush Administration’s EPA to get out of the way and grant California the waiver it and other states need in order to move forward with these landmark protections.