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Association of Int'l Auto. Mfrs., Inc. v. Commissioner

ELR Citation: 30 ELR 20179
Nos. No. 98-1036, 196 F.3d 302/(1st Cir., 11/24/1999) further proceedings stayed

The court grants automakers' motion to stay their challenge to Massachusetts' zero emission vehicle standards pending the automakers' appeal of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In an earlier decision, in which the automakers claim that the Clean Air Act preempts Massachusetts' zero emission vehicle standards, the court referred a number of questions to EPA under the primary jurisdiction doctrine. Dissatisfied with EPA's response to those questions, the automakers lodged an appeal with the D.C. Circuit.

The court first holds that the primary jurisdiction doctrine compels a stay. Were the court to decide this case before the automakers fully prosecuted their challenge to EPA's decision, the lack of a final EPA position would force the court to decide those very issues that were referred to the Agency initially, as well as difficult questions concerning the proper scope of EPA's statutory jurisdiction. The court next holds that additional policy concerns support a stay. Any decision the court renders now would present a real risk of inconsistent or even directly contradictory decisions between the First and D.C. Circuits. Moreover, the validity and effect of the EPA ruling should be adjudicated before the D.C. Circuit.

[Prior decisions in this litigation are published at 28 ELR 20210 and 29 ELR 20378.]

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

Counsel for Defendant
William L. Pardee, Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
One Ashburton Pl., Boston MA 02108
(617) 727-2200

Before Cyr and Stahl, JJ.