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Industry challenges California emissions law

Nine OEMs, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and local auto retailers have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Fresno, Calif., challenging California’s greenhouse gas law. Automakers reported to have joined the suit include Toyota, General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Porsche and Volkswagen.

Noting that federal law gives the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the mandate for setting a national fuel economy standard, Alliance president and CEO Fred Webber warns that California’s greenhouse gas regulation could increase new car prices by an average of $3,000--more than could be recouped in fuel savings--and that fewer models would be available.

According to Webber, there would be no identifiable change in temperature or climate in California even if every automobile in the state were eliminated. He estimates that globally, the regulation would reduce greenhouse gases by only 1/10 of 1%. “The regulation only addresses carbon dioxide, not smog. Unlike smog, carbon dioxide poses no health hazard. Indeed, plant life needs carbon dioxide to live.”

Webber says automakers are investing billions of dollars to develop fuel-efficient automobiles with technologies like cylinder deactivation, hybrid-electric power trains, clean diesel, continuously variable transmissions, hydrogen internal combustion engines, and fuel cells. “Consumer tax incentives can help spur sales of these vehicles,” he suggests. “It is imperative that these incentives are technology neutral. The government should not pick winners and losers, but rather let consumers and the marketplace choose which technologies make sense for them.”

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