AG Lynch comments on "Clean Cars" decision issued by Judge Torres
Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch issued the following statement concerning the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island's decision handed up yesterday by Senior United States District Court Judge Ernest C. Torres in the case of The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers v. Sullivan, 1:06-cv-00069 ("the clean cars case").
In February 2006, two automobile manufacturers, two manufacturers' associations, and a number of Rhode Island automobile dealers brought two separate lawsuits challenging Rhode Island's greenhouse gas emissions standards for new motor vehicles as invalid. As required by the federal Clean Air Act, Rhode Island's regulations are identical to the California emission regulations for greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles. The automakers and dealers argued that Rhode Island's standards are preempted by the Federal Clean Air Act ("CAA") because EPA denied California's request for a waiver of preemption. (The waiver is a prerequisite for enforcing the regulations, and preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) because Rhode Island's regulations were really fuel economy standards and not air pollution standards.) General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers brought identical legal challenges in California and Vermont, raising the same legal issues, and lost in both Vermont and California federal courts.
Attorney General Lynch, working with a number of environmental organizations including, the Rhode Island Conservation Law Foundation, filed a motion asking the Court to dismiss the legal challenges because the doctrine of issue preclusion bars the same parties from challenging the same legal issues multiple times before the same court or different courts. Judge Torres agreed with the State as to the manufacturers and the trade associations claims, but left the lawsuits intact with respect to the local car dealerships because no evidence yet produced to demonstrate the relationship between the dealers and the manufacturers was significant enough to warrant a dismissal based on a theory of privity.
Attorney General Lynch's comment is as follows:
"We are very pleased with the decision that upholds a well-recognized legal principle by telling the automakers they've litigated, to the limit, the requirements to build cleaner cars. The automobile industry has wasted enormous resources in challenging automobile standards that are designed to make cars more environmentally sound and energy efficient. Maybe now they will finally realize that they need to focus their time and resources on designing cleaner and greener cars that challenge the standards."
Source: Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General
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