Court Rules Local Governments Can Mandate Greener Vehicles in Public Fleets
PASADENA, Calif. --- In a decision that could affect government fleets nationwide, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that publicly funded fleets in southern California can be required to buy low-polluting vehicles that run on compressed natural gas or other alternative fuels.
However, the appeals court sent a portion of the case back to district court to be decided there. That portion deals with whether federal Clean Air Act rules supersede South Coast Air Quality Management District rules as they relate to private and federal fleets, such as the fleets run by Federal Express and the U.S. Postal Service.
Otherwise, the court ruled in favor of the South Coast Air Quality Maintenance District, which in 2000 enacted fleet rules that require operators of various fleets to buy vehicles meeting specified emissions standards, or to buy vehicles having alternative-fuel engines, when adding to their fleets. Complicating matters in the case is the fact that some provisions of the district fleet rules apply to state and local governmental agencies, while others apply to federal governmental agencies and private fleet operators.
The Engine Manufacturers Association and Western States Petroleum Association have legally challenged the rules since their implementation and they were the plaintiffs in the case.
According to the Los Angeles Times, southern California agencies have purchased an estimated 6,000 new vehicles, most of them powered by compressed natural gas, since the fleet rules were adopted in 2000.
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