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U.S. Fed Court Upholds Calif. Carbon Curbs

The state of California has had its legal right to enact controls on air pollution upheld on appeal.

A challenge had been mounted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and trade body the National Automobile Dealers Association but was dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals because the bodies had no legal standing.

Because California had its own air pollution controls in place prior to the adoption of the 1970 federal Clean Air Act, the state was granted the right to request a waiver to impose its own rules stricter than those contained within the federal act.

President George W. Bush’s administration refused to grant California a waiver in 2004 when the state planned to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The Obama administration subsequently granted the waiver in 2009. This 2009 waiver was challenged but Friday’s court verdict upholds the administration’s decision.

The decision reads that “because the Chamber has not identified a single member who was or would be injured by [the] EPA’s waiver decision, it lacks standing to raise this challenge.” Nor had the dealers, it said, proved economic harm.

California’s upheld standards require auto companies to achieve a 30 percent reduction of emissions by cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles by 2016. Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have adopted California’s standards.

The news came on the same day as new figures revealed that California’s use of vehicle fuel has risen.

The state’s gasoline consumption was up 2.7 percent in January, and diesel consumption rose 1.4 percent, compared with last year, according to the California State Board of Equalization.

The average price of gasoline was up 10.4 percent according to the BOE.

“While gasoline consumption is up slightly, high prices are really hurting a lot of Californians,” said Jerome E. Horton, the BOE’s chairman. “Every day, Californians see high gasoline prices which take a huge chunk out of their household budget. This is especially difficult for those who are not able to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle and have to commute long distances to get to work.”

Picture credit: Briles Takes Pictures

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