Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Automotive Parts Rebuilders Ass'n v. EPA

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 21069
Nos. Nos. 80-1788, -1828, 720 F.2d 142/19 ERC 2009/(D.C. Cir., 10/14/1983)

The court upholds all but one provision of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations under §207(b) of the Clean Air Act that establish a performance warranty program for repair of motor vehicle emission control systems. The court rules that EPA's failure to establish a parts certification program on time does not render the performance warranty regulations unenforceable. Section 207(b) does not make a certification program a prerequisite to the performance warranty regulations. The court also rules that new regulations on vehicle owner maintenance and use justructions are not a prerequisite to performance warranty regulations. The 1977 amendments to §207(b) allow EPA to promulgate new regulations, but do not require EPA to adopt new instructions.

The court upholds the scope of the performance warranty regulations. It rejects petitioners' assertion that the warranty should apply only to parts integral to the emission control device. The court holds that the requirement that vehicle manufacturers make all repairs necessary to assure that the vehicle complies with applicable emission standards during the first 24 months or 24,000 miles of vehicle life is consistent with §§207(b) and 207(g). Furthermore, EPA did not exceed its authority in extending the post-24-month, 24,000-mile warranty to emission control devices and other parts whose failure caused or was caused by the failure of the control device.

The court holds that EPA's issuance of an advisory list of emission control parts was a policy statement, exempt from the notice-and-comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) as consistent with the exemption for policy statements in §553(b) of the APA. Also valid are regulations that hold manufacturers responsible for warranty repairs made necessary by the acts of dealers. The language of the Act and its legislative history make clear that Congress intended manufacturers' liability to be broad and not transferable by delegating work to dealers or others. However, the court rules invalid provisionsthat require the manufacturer to prove uncertified replacement parts are defective to avoid fulfilling the warranty on cars containing such parts. Section 207(b) clearly frees the vehicle manufacturer of the burden of repairing cars with uncertified parts in exchange for imposing strict warranty requirements on cars with certified parts. Finally, the court upholds EPA provisions that prohibit a vehicle manufacturer from denying a warranty claim if a certified part is defective. Congress intended the warranty program to protect consumers from disputes between auto and parts manufacturers, and the Act contains no exception for defective certified parts. Further, the regulation avoids imposition of vicarious liability by a reimbursement scheme. EPA properly interpreted the statute to make auto manufacturers primarily responsible for honoring warranties on cars with defective certified parts, provided an acceptable reimbursement scheme allows the manufacturer to recover from the source of the parts.

[Related decisions are published at 13 ELR 21063, 21080 — Ed.]

Counsel for Petitioners
Richard A. Mehler
Mehler & Lamb
1742 N St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 785-4822

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

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

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

Samuel I. Gutter
Office of the General Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC 20460
(202) 382-4134

Counsel for Amici Curiae
Francis X. Bellotti, Attorney General; Stephen M. Leonard
One Ashburton Pl., Boston MA 02108
(617) 727-3688

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