U.S. Supreme Court grants appeal over metro LA’s ban on diesel fleet purchases

U.S. Supreme Court grants appeal over metro LA’s ban on diesel fleet purchases – Brief Article

Jack Peckham

Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) and Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) just won a U.S. Supreme Court hearing this fall over South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD, metro Los Angeles air regulators) ban on purchase of new diesel fleet vehicles.

SCAQMD’s fleet rules (see Diesel Fuel News 11/11/02, p12; 10/28/02, p2) force mostly government and some private fleets to buy “alternative fuels” vehicles rather than clean-diesel or even many clean-gasoline engines or vehicles. SCAQMD’s rationale is that metro Los Angeles has the nation’s worst air pollution, justifying extraordinary measures.

But aside from the fact that clean-diesel is far cheaper than “alt-fuels” vehicles and thus could allow far more air pollution reduction per dollar spent (hence encouraging faster fleet turnover, and better net air quality), the legal issue is whether local jurisdictions can ban the purchase of new vehicles certified by U.S. EPA or California Air Resources Board (CARB).

A Ninth U.S. Appeals Court ruling that upheld the SCAQMD rule contradicts earlier decisions by the First and Second U.S. Appeals Courts, the EMA/WSPA petition to the Supreme Court argues.

The SCAQMD rule aims to dance around the U.S. Congress ban on states or localities pre-empting EPA or CARB vehicle emissions standards, by claiming that a ban on “purchases” isn’t a ban on “sales.”

If the Ninth Appeals Court decision were to stand, than virtually any city in the U.S. could make up its own fleet purchase rules, resulting in a hodge-podge of emissions standards that would wreck the Clean Air Act goals, the EMAIWSPA petition argues.


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