MEMO TO: E2 Members
FROM: Craig Noble, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) ? (415) 777-0220
We want to inform you about the Bush administration?s unprecedented attack on California?s historic legal right to protect the air we breathe. As reported on October 10th in California newspapers, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, the federal government has joined automakers? legal challenge to California?s innovative Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program. The move is clearly a handout to administration friends in the auto industry.
(Recall that White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card is the former chief lobbyist for the Automobile Manufacturers Association. Also consider that the auto industry contributed more than $1.2 million to Bush's 2000 presidential campaign, compared to $114,000 for Al Gore, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.)
· This IS about choice. Californians have a legal right to protect our air quality and our environment; car companies are trying to take that right away.
· Clean vehicles are a key part of the state strategy to clean up our air.
· In 1990 the California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued a mandate requiring that zero-emission vehicles make up at least 2 percent of new car sales by 1998, 5 percent by 2001 and 10 percent by 2003.
· CARB eliminated the ramp-up targets in 1996, leaving the 10 percent requirement in place for 2003.
· The rule was modified again in 1999 and 2001 to allow partial credits for extremely clean vehicles known as ?advanced technology partial ZEVs? (PZEVs). These include the increasingly popular gasoline-electric hybrids ? like Toyota Prius and Honda Insight ? that are hitting the road in increasing numbers.
· January 2002 - General Motors, DaimlerChrylser and several California car dealers filed a federal lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in the Eastern District of California alleging the new ZEV rules violate a federal law barring states from regulating fuel economy in any way.
· June 11, 2002 - The judge in the ZEV lawsuit granted the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction asking that CARB be prevented from enforcing the 2001 ZEV regulations for model years 2003 and 2004. The judge agreed with the plaintiffs that, while there are other compliance options available, those options are not viable alternatives. The judge also looked at whether the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm from enforcement of the 2001 ZEV regulations. In its opposition to the injunction, CARB argued that the plaintiffs would not suffer harm from the 2001 regulations because the 1999 ZEV program was more stringent. CARB pointed out that the 2001 ZEV regulations eased the economic impact of the 1999 ZEV requirements.