The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Judge Upholds California Clean Air Rule

September 18, 2001

A federal court has upheld South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) rules requiring public agencies in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area to make a gradual transition to clean-fueled trucks and buses to reduce human exposure to cancer-causing diesel soot. The rules, adopted after an SCAQMD study in 1999 showing that diesel soot is responsible for some 70 percent of the cancer risk from toxic air pollution in the region, require public agencies to purchase clean-fueled trucks, buses, and other vehicles when replacing worn-out ones or expanding their fleets. The Engine Manufacturers Association challenged the rules, claiming the federal Clean Air Act pre-empted SCAQMD from imposing the requirements. The requirements cover fleets of public transit buses, school buses, garbage trucks, street sweep-ers, shuttle buses and taxis serving airports, public works trucks, and other vehicles. The trade association maintained that SCAQMD's fleet rules constituted a local vehicle emissions standard, which is prohibited under the federal Clean Air Act. However, in her ruling, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California wrote that SCAQMD’s fleet rules “regulate the purchasing and leasing of vehi-cles by fleet operators . . . The rules impose no new emissions requirements on manufacturers what-soever, and therefore do not run afoul of Congress’s purpose behind motor vehicle preemption: namely, the protection of manufacturers against having to build engines in compliance with a multiplicity of standards.”
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