August 19, 2007
To the Editor:
The U.S. auto industry's declaration that efforts by Maryland and other states to fight global warming are "unworkable" is not only incorrect but stands on flawed legal reasoning ("EPA gets push on emissions controls," Aug. 13).
Industry lawsuits against states seeking to limit tailpipe emissions rest on two major premises: that state standards somehow interfere with federal authority to issue fuel economy standards and that they somehow usurp federal authority to conduct foreign policy regarding climate issues.
But this spring, in the case of Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court made a firm distinction between health-based policies intended to curb global warming and separate policies that improve fuel economy.
Meanwhile, as the state of California pointed out in recent court filings, the State Department's Fourth U.S. Climate Action Report, far from taking umbrage at that state's actions, approvingly cites them as one of many "nonfederal climate change activities that are vital for the success of emission reduction policies."
It is no wonder that, given its flawed position, the auto industry ends up focusing so much attention on hyperbolic claims about the cost of state regulations - claims that have nothing to do with the legal argument at hand.
Maryland, California and other states are on strong legal ground as they work to spur nationwide production of cleaner cars and to help stop global warming.
The writer is an attorney for Community Rights Counsel, a law firm that works to defend environmental regulations and filed a brief for the state in the case of Massachusetts v. EPA.