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Oxygenated Fuels Ass'n v. Davis

Citation: 33 ELR 20212
No. No. 01-17078, (9th Cir., 06/04/2003)

The court affirms a district court holding that the Clean Air Act (CAA) does not preempt California's ban of the use of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) in oxygenated fuel. CAA §211(c)(4)(A) preempts state regulation of fuel for purposes of motor vehicle emissions, but California is exempt from this requirement under CAA §211(c)(4)(B) when regulating fuel for motor vehicle emissions. Because the MTBE ban was not enacted for the purpose of emission control, but rather to address water pollution caused by MTBE, the preemption exemption does not apply. Likewise, however, it is not expressly preempted under CAA §211(c)(4)(A). Nor does the CAA impliedly preempt the MTBE ban. Neither the CAA's text nor the legislative history provides clear evidence that the ban conflicts with the congressional goal of providing gasoline manufacturers an unrestricted choice among oxygenated fuel additives. There is some evidence that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is required to be neutral with regard to fuel additives, but there is no evidence that states must also be neutral. Likewise, although the MTBE ban may disrupt the gasoline market, it will not frustrate the full effectiveness of federal law governing gasoline manufacturing. Thus, the MTBE ban does not conflict with the CAA's goals and purposes.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Frederick R. Anderson
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
1333 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Ste. 700, Washington DC 20036
(202) 862-2200

Counsel for Defendant
Russell B. Hildreth
Attorney General's Office
1300 I St., Ste. 1740, Sacramento CA 95814
(916) 324-5437