On the Road to New Fuel Efficiency Standards

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On December 19, 2007, the traffic on the regulatory highway of greenhouse gas emissions for new vehicles was congested on the state, federal, and international level. Stephen Johnson, the U.S. EPA Administrator, announced his

agency would not grant a waiver to California’s regulation to limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from new automobiles. At the same time, President Bush signed a new energy bill, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, that requires a fleet average of thirty-five miles per

gallon by 2020 and an annual production of thirty-six billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. And the European Commission adopted a proposal for legislation to dramatically reduce the average carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions of new passenger cars by 2012.

President Bush’s and the U.S. EPA’s actions over the last seven months reflected a preference for a national instead of a state-by-state approach to regulating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. In May, President Bush required federal agencies to consider regulations to control such emissions from motor vehicles. Over the summer, the U.S. EPA held hearings on California’s petition for a

waiver that the state originally requested in 2005. Even with most comments supporting the grant of a waiver, the U.S. EPA seemed reluctant to do so. Instead, the U.S. EPA announced this fall that it would begin a “Rulemaking To Address Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Motor Vehicles.”

According to the U.S. EPA, a notice of proposed rulemaking would be published by the end of 2007 and the agency would announce its final action in October 2008. Then, on December 19, 2007, hours after President Bush signed the energy bill, Johnson held a press conference to announce the

U.S. EPA would not grant California a waiver. The denial of the waiver arguably moots litigation in three jurisdictions.

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