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Global Warming Litigation
Preemption Cases

Updated: July 2007




Center for Biological Diversity v. NHTSA, No. 06-71891 (9th Cir. filed Apr. 12, 2006).  

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released new fuel efficiency standards which analyzed the effect of state regulation of greenhouse gases emitted from automobiles. The document stated that manufacturers would have to increase fuel efficiency to meet the standards of such state regulation. Since states are not permitted to enforce their own fuel efficiency standards, the report implies that state regulation of greenhouse gases emitted from automobiles would be preempted. Petitioners have challenged this report in the Ninth Circuit Court with reasoning which closely resembles that in Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep.

Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep v. Witherspoon, No. CV-04-6663 (E.D. Cal. 2006).

Automobile manufacturers and dealers brought suit before the District Court for the Eastern District of California against the California Air Resources Control Board, arguing that a state law which regulates greenhouse gases emitted from automobiles is preempted by the fuel efficiency standards promulgated by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The manufacturers and dealers argue that California’s regulation can only be met by making cars more fuel efficient, setting a de facto standard and interfering with federal authority to regulate fuel economy. Alternatively, they argue that California’s attempt to regulate interferes with federal executive power to negotiate internationally concerning global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. California moved for a judgment on the pleadings, but the Court found that the manufacturers had stated a sufficient claim under both doctrines. The case was set to go to trial in January 2007 in the District Court for the Eastern District of California, but Judge Ishii has issued a stay pending the resolution of Mass v. EPA.


Green Mountain Chrysler v. Torti, No. 2:05-CV-302 (D. Vt. filed Nov. 18, 2005), sub nom. Green Mountain Chrysler v. Dalmasse, No. 2:05-CV-302 (D.Vt. Nov. 30, 2006).

Vermont enacted regulations similar to those of California establishing greenhouse gas emission standards. The arguments put forth by both sides largely duplicate the arguments presented in Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep. The state’s motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction and ripeness was dismissed in November 2006. A decision on this case is still pending. A similar suit was also filed the same day, Ass’n of Int’l Auto. Mfrs. v. Torti, No. 2:04-CV-304 (D.Vt. filed Nov. 18, 2005), and is consolidated within the suit.


Lincoln Dodge, Inc. v. Sullivan, No. 1:06-CV-0070 (D.R.I. filed Feb. 13, 2006)

In the third of three cases similar to Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep, automobile dealers and manufacturers are challenging California-style CO2 regulations enacted in Rhode Island in the District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Decision is pending. Ass’n of Int’l Auto. Mfrs. v. Sullivan, No. 1:06-CV-00069 (D.R.I. filed Feb. 13, 2006) is also consolidated within the suit.



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