In Court

Published: Saturday 15 January 2005

Pollution lawsuit:American automobile manufacturers have filed a lawsuit in Fresno federal court to block the adoption of California's stringent vehicle emission standards adopted in September 2004. The lawsuit argues that setting such norms is the responsibility of the federal government and not the California state. "Federal law is designed to ensure a consistent fuel economy programme across the country," said Fred Webber, president and chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. While, the association says only the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can set fuel economy standards, environmental groups say states have a right to protect their people from pollution. "That's what this suit is about -- air pollution, not fuel economy," said David Doniger, policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate Center.

Automakers say the cost will increase by US$3,000 per vehicle if the new standards are enforced. Consumer choices will also reduce. But government authorities claim the increase will be only about US $1,000 per vehicle. The California Air Resources Board estimates the new rules will reduce exhaust emissions from cars and light trucks by 25 per cent and from larger trucks and Sports Utility Vehicles by 18 per cent.

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