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Vermont Judge Rules on GHG Emissions for Automakers

September 12, 2007 9:45 AM | Posted by kristin.jones@alston.com | Topic(s): Litigation

On September 12, 2007, a federal judge in Vermont ruled that the state may impose its own greenhouse gas emission standards on automakers.  The opinion in Green Mountain Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge, et al. v. Crombie, et al. marked a victory for states in their battle with the automotive industry, seeking imposition of new rules to reduce tailpipe emissions.

Plaintiffs, a group of car dealers and manufacturers including DaimlerChrysler and the General Motors Corporation, alleged in their complaint that Vermont's proposed regulations were pre-empted by the federal Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and sought an injunction barring the state from implementation of the proposed regulations.  After a 16-day trial, Chief Judge William K. Sessions III issued a 240-page opinion rejecting plaintiff's arguments and entering judgment in favor of the state.

Following California's lead, Vermont joins at least 10 other states in adopting regulations that would require a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from new vehicles by 2016.  Although the decision is likely to be appealed (and similar litigation could follow in other states), Green Mountain Chrysler could clear the way for implementation of similar regulations by other states.

Meanwhile, the State of California's request for an EPA waiver of federal pre-emption of its own tailpipe emissions standards remains pending.