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American Auto. Mfrs. Ass'n v. Commissioner

ELR Citation: 28 ELR 20210
Nos. 93-10799-ADM, 998 F. Supp. 10/(D. Mass., 10/15/1997) State agency regulations preempted

The court holds that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP's) zero emission vehicle (ZEV) regulations for automobile manufacturers are not identical to California standards as required by Clean Air Act (CAA) §177 and, thus, are preempted by CAA §209(a). In 1992, Massachusetts incorporated the California ZEV program into its motor vehicle emission regulations. In 1996, California repealed its mandatory ZEV production requirements and entered into private memoranda of agreement (MOAs) assuring seven automobile manufacturers' commitment to meeting ZEV demand. The DEP amended Massachusetts' regulations to reflect the ZEV requirements in the MOAs. Although California included its ZEV requirements in the voluntary MOAs, Massachusetts retained mandatory ZEV requirements for 1998 through 2002. The court first holds that Massachusetts' ZEV regulations are expressly preempted by CAA §209(a) unless saved by some other part of the CAA statutory scheme. The plain meaning of the term standard leads to the conclusion that the Massachusetts ZEV sales mandate adopts or attempts to enforce a standard within the meaning of CAA §209(a). The court next holds that Massachusetts' ZEV regulations do not adopt or enforce a standard identical to California law and, thus, cannot survive preemption under CAA §177. At the time Massachusetts enacted its amendments, California law did not include a ZEV standard for any model year earlier than 2003. The amended Massachusetts' ZEV sales mandate, however, includes requirements for new cars in the years 1998 through 2000. The court disagrees with a recent New York decision on the exact issue that found that New York's ZEV sales mandate was not preempted by the CAA because it is an enforcement procedure and not a standard. A state's enforcement procedures may not set requirements more demanding than a federally authorized quantitative emissions standard. For §§209(a) and 177 to make any sense, enforcement procedures relating to new motor vehicles must attempt to enforce a standard consistent with a federal standard or identical to a California standard. The court also holds that California's MOAs are not standards for thepurposes of CAA §209(a). Because the ZEV requirements in the MOAs were voluntarily undertaken by the auto manufacturers rather than imposed by California, the plain meaning, case law interpreting the term standards, and the legislative history of the CAA, indicate that the MOAs are outside the scope of CAA §209(a). Under the MOAs, California limited itself to the benefits and detriments of private contract law. Last, the court notes that, because the MOAs are not California standards, it is unnecessary to determine if the MOAs have been granted an EPA waiver.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Daniel F. Attridge
Kirkland & Ellis
655 15th St. NW, Ste. 1200, Washington DC 20005
(202) 879-5000

Counsel for Defendant
David G. Bookbinder, Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
One Ashburton Pl., Boston MA 02108
(617) 727-9173