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Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass'n of the United States v. Costle

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 21063
Nos. No. 80-1829, 647 F.2d 675/19 ERC 2001/(D.C. Cir., 10/04/1983)

The court rules that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) complied with §207(b) of the Clean Air Act in promulgating regulations establishing "short tests" to determine when motor vehicle manufacturers must honor a warranty that their products will comply with emission limitations in use. The court holds that the three test methods specified by EPA are "available," as required by §207(b)(i). EPA acted within its discretion in selecting tests that fail to catch all vehicles that violate federal emission standards because more selective tests could not be used in the foreseeable future. The tests also are valid even though they can measure only two of the three pollutants regulated under the Act. The court rules that the short test rules are "in accordance with good engineering practice" under §207(b)(ii). Applying test data for automobiles to diesel and light trucks was reasonable where the differences between the types of vehicles result in a testing bias favoring the manufacturers. Advances in emission control technology subsequent to EPA research do not render the test data obsolete. In addition, EPA acted within its considerable technical discretion when it corrected for the effects that variations in ambient temperature and fuel might have on test results, and therefore manufacterers' liability, by lowering the short test's passing score. Finally, the court rules that the short tests are "reasonably capable of being correlated with" the full-scale Federal Test Procedure as required by §207(b)(iii). The statute and its legislative history make clear that Congress did not intend to require EPA to find a classical correlation between the two testing techniques. The short tests reasonably correlate with the Federal Test Procedure because they limit manufacturers' liability to cases where the vehicles certainly would have failed the full test while satisfying the congressional intent that they be performed within the time limits of a regular vehicle inspection.

[Related decisions are published at 13 ELR 21069, 21080 — Ed.]

Counsel for Petitioners
William H. Crabtree, Charles H. Lockwood
Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass'n of the U.S.
300 New Ctr. Bldg., Detroit MI 48202
(313) 872-4311

Theodore Souris, James A. Smith, David G. Chardavoyne, Terrence B. Larkin, Frederick J. Dindoffer
Bodman, Longley & Dahling
34th Floor, 100 Renaissance Ctr., Detroit MI 48243
(313) 259-7777

Counsel for Respondent
David E. Dearing, Maureen D. Smith, Donald W. Stever Jr.
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5777

David Feldman, Robert Weissman, Gerald K. Gleason
Office of the General Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC 20460
(202) 475-8040

Counsel for Amici Curiae
Robert Abrams, Attorney General; Marcia J. Cleveland, David R. Wooley
Two World Trade Ctr., New York NY 10047
(212) 488-4141

Before: WRIGHT and MIKVA, Circuit Judges, and MacKINNON, Senior Circuit Judge.