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Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20138
Nos. 18-15937, (9th Cir., 06/01/2020)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part a district court's dismissal of a suit challenging an automobile company's use of diesel-cheat devices to evade compliance with federally mandated emission standards. Two counties argued the company's installation of and modification to the devices violated their states' anti-tampering regulations. The district court dismissed the suit, holding that the counties' claims as applied to new vehicles and post-sale vehicles were preempted by the CAA, because the Act precluded state and local governments from adopting or attempting to enforce any standard related to the control of emission from new vehicles and because the company made post-sale software changes on a model-wide basis and Congress intended for model-wide tampering to be regulated exclusively by EPA. The appellate court agreed that the CAA expressly preempted the counties from applying anti-tampering laws to pre-sale vehicles, but held that the Act preserved the counties' authority over post-sale vehicles. The court therefore affirmed dismissal of the counties' claims to the extent they sought to apply anti-tampering rules to new vehicles, but reversed dismissal of their claims regarding post-sale tampering.