California's Global Warming Bill: Will Fuel Economy Preemption Curb California's Air Pollution Leadership?

Giovinazzo, Christopher T.
December 2003
Ecology Law Quarterly;2003, Vol. 30 Issue 4, p893
Academic Journal
In 2001, the California legislature passed AB-1493, a law requiring substantial reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cars and trucks. AB-1493 is the latest in California's long history of pioneering regulations to reduce motor vehicle emissions, a leadership role that Congress encouraged by granting California a unique waiver to the Clean Air Act's preemption of state vehicle emissions laws. Yet automakers intend to challenge AB-1493 as preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). EPCA sets federal fuel economy standards and preempts state fuel economy regulations with no exception for California. Even though reducing vehicular GHGs will likely affect fuel economy, this Comment argues that AB-1493 should be upheld against an EPCA preemption challenge. Because every California emissions law has some impact on fuel economy, there is no logical way to apply EPCA preemption to California without eliminating California's CAA flexibility to pass its own emissions laws. Constricting California's autonomy would directly conflict with Congress's intent and would impede the kind of state innovation that should be favored by an administration and a Supreme Court friendly to federalism.


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