Historic Auto Emissions Trial Begins In Vermont Case Pits Automakers vs. VT and Environmentalists in Battle over Global Warming

Brian Barth

Colin Durrant
CLF Director of Communications, (617) 850-1722

Burlington, VT (April 10, 2007) A historic trial began today in Vermont that will, for the first time, decide whether the state has the authority under the federal Clean Air Act to reduce global warming pollution from cars and trucks. The case pits two major automakers against the states of Vermont and New York and several environmental groups. Vermont enacted its new greenhouse gas regulations pursuant to the federal Clean Air Act. The automakers, however, contend that Vermont ’s standards are preempted by another federal statute which regulates corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards.

“In the face of federal inaction to combat climate change, states have chosen to lead the way by using the authority granted to them in the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles,” said Chris Kilian , Vice-President of the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and Director of its Vermont Advocacy Center. CLF is one of five environmental groups that has intervened in the lawsuit and its legal team is working side by side with the Vermont Attorney General’s office to defend the state’s emissions standards.

The transportation sector is the source for more than a half of Vermont ’s greenhouse gas and ozone emissions, and more than a third of New England ’s. Eleven states, including every state in New England except for New Hampshire , have exercised their rights under the Clean Air Act to enact California-based emissions standards that are more protective than those set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Just last week, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Massachusetts v. EPA confirming that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant and that the Environmental Protection Agency must comply with its Clean Air Act obligations to issue auto emission regulations.