9 ELR 20581 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1979 | All rights reserved

Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Ass'n v. Environmental Protection Agency (I)

Nos. 78-1896; -1901; -1931; -1943; -1944 (D.C. Cir. August 3, 1979)

ELR Digest

Various motor vehicle and automotive parts manufacturers challenge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator's waiver of federal preemption, under Clean Air Act § 209(b)(1), of the California regulations which limit the amount of in-use masintenance that a manufacturer can require of purchasers, as delineated in the written instructions accompanying new vehicles sold in the state. Under the "performance warranty" required to be imposed on manufacturers by § 207(b) of the Act, the manufacturer must bear the cost of remedying any nonconformity with § 202 emission standards on vehicles maintained in accordance with these instructions. Concluding that petitioners have not met their burden of showing that the Administrator misconstrued the statutory requirements, the court denies their request to set aside the waiver decision.

The court first notes that its inquiry is limited to whether the Administrator properly discharged his responsibilities under § 209 and does not directly concern the substance of the California regulations. The court then rules that the Administrator's waiver power under § 209(b) extends to the California in-use maintenance regulations because such rules are an attempt to enforce the state's emission control standards and are preempted by § 209(a). The California regulations constitute "accompanying enforcement procedures" for state standards for which a waiver has already been granted rather than "standards" themselves. The Administrator thus correctly determined that he need not consider whether the state reasonably determined that the regulations are as protective of public health as the federal standards or are needed to meet compelling and extraordinary local conditions. The Administrator also properly concluded that various constitutional and antitrust objections raised by petitioners were beyond the scope of his review; the Agency can leave constitutional questions for the courts, and it properly declined to assess "social costs" such as the alleged anticompetitive effects of its action as a "cost of compliance" which it must consider under § 202. The court rules further that the Administrator correctly determined that there was no clear and compelling evidence to show that the regulations would undermine California's determination that the standards to which they relate are at least as protective as the federal standards. In addition, he reasonably concluded that petitioners had failed to meet their burden of demonstrating that the regulations were technologically infeasible and thus inconsistent with § 202(a). Finally, the court rejects as having no merit petitioners' claims that the California regulations unconstitutionally restrict their right to communicate with their customers and deny them due process. The petitions to set aside the waiver decision are therefore denied.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (66 pp. $8.25, ELR Order No. C-1182).

Counsel for Petitioners
John H. Pickering, Timothy N. Black, Charles H. Lockwood
Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering
1666 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20006
(202) 872-6000

William T. Coleman, Jr., Richard C. Warmer, Donald T. Bliss, Jr., William L. Weber, Jr.
O'Melveny & Meyers
1800 M St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 457-5300

Mark R. Joelson, Marc L. Fleischaker, Lawrence P. Postol
Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn
1815 H St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 857-6000

Counsel for Respondents
James McNab III, Bruce I. Bertelsen; Joan Z. Bernstein, General Counsel; Gerald K. Gleason
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC 20460
(202) 755-2511

David Dearing, Sanford Sagalkin; James W. Moorman, Ass't Attorney General; Lloyd Guerci
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2654

Counsel for Intervenor State of California
Joel S. Moskowitz, Deputy Attorney General
State Capitol, Sacramento CA 95814
(916) 445-2256

MacKinnon, J., joined by Wright & Robb, JJ.


9 ELR 20581 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1979 | All rights reserved