South Coast AQMD Limits Air Emissions Of State And Local Fleets
We've seen this case before: Engine Manufacturers Association v. South Coast Air Quality Maintenance District. It's been up, down and all around the court system and appellate ladder, all the way to the Supreme Court and back again. In the latest iteration, the government wins. In previous versions, businesses won.
But it's far from over. We're going to see more of this case because the Ninth Circuit sent part of it back to the lower court.
The SCAQMD is trying to regulate vehicle emissions by attacking fleets of cars and trucks of 15 or more, rules that are now seven years old and haven't been implemented yet. As noted in the Court's opening lines, the South Coast Basin is the only area in the United States classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as an extreme non-attainment area for ozone.
The question before the Ninth Circuit (this time) revolves around preemption. Can the SCAQMD regulate fleets of vehicles or is that task solely left to the USEPA under the federal Clean Air Act?
The Ninth Circuit decided that the SCAQMD can regulate state and local government fleets with these rules. The part of the case that went back to the lower court requires a reexamination of the preemption issue as it relates to private fleets. There's a doctrine of law that applies to the state and its local governments when they act as a market participant instead of a regulator, with certain limitations. Here, the SCAQMD elected to force other branches of the government to fall within its emission regulations when it went to the auto and truck market to purchase cars.
State sovereignty allows the state to regulate itself and local governments within a state. The open question, however, is whether the SCAQMD can also regulate private fleets given the breadth of the federal Clean Air Act.
More to follow. Film at 11 (years from now).