Cox: Don't Drown Auto Industry in New Regulation

Contact: John Sellek or Matt Frendewey, Media Contact 517-373-8060
Agency: Attorney General

January 23, 2009


    LANSING -  Attorney General Mike Cox today filed an amicus brief in the case California v EPA, arguing that automobile greenhouse gas emissions should be regulated solely by the federal government, not by a separate set of state regulations.  Currently, the federal government has mandated that auto manufacturers reach 35 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2020, however in order to comply with California's emission regulations, the car companies would have to reach an unreasonable fuel efficiency standard of 49 mpg by 2020.


    "The auto industry is working hard to reform and retool.  Allowing state-by-state fuel efficiency standards would be devastating to the auto industry," said Cox.  "As an environmentalist, we need to be conscious of measures that will maintain a clean environment for our children. However, in order to address global greenhouse gas emissions, we need a national strategy, not a one-state or multi-state solution."


    Cox filed his brief today, arguing that the Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act preempt California from independently regulating auto emissions in an attempt to address a global problem, and from establishing de facto fuel economy standards.  Cox points out that in enacting these statutes, Congress made clear that it intended to protect automobile manufacturers from individual state regulation that could harm the U.S. automobile industry. 


    "If California and a handful of other states are allowed to dictate environmental policy for the entire country on a state-by-state basis and not a uniform basis, our nation's economy will become further weakened," said Cox.  "I will not stand by silently while a handful of states try to drown the U.S. auto industry in new regulation."


    Cox's brief also points out that the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) already set fuel economy standards for 2008-2011 for light tracks, and Congress has set a target of 35 mpg for passenger cars and trucks combined by 2020.  These standards were set by taking into account the economic practicalities of achieving the fuel standards.  California's standards do not account for the potential costs of the regulation, and according to automakers, would impose further economic hardship on the U.S. automakers.


    Cox has been a strong proponent for the U.S. auto industry.  In January 2008, Cox testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works.  Earlier this month, Cox had an opinion piece published in the Washington Post inviting members of Congress to attend the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).  The opinion piece prompted Senator Bob Corker, a strong critic of the auto industry, to attend the NAIAS.  He later admitted that American manufacturers are building world class vehicles.

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