When do car companies and our governments get serious about emissions?
Legal setback for Bush administration on vehicle emissions
The administration of George W. Bush suffered a legal setback here when a US federal appeals court ruled that government emission standards for light trucks and sport utility vehicles are not stringent enough.
The San Francisco-based federal appeals court ordered the Bush administration to tighten emission standards set for automobiles sold in the United States as quickly as possible, in response to a lawsuit filed by 11 states, including California, two cities and four environmental groups.
The plaintiffs especially noted that under the existing rules, thanks to a legal loophole, large 4x4 sports utility vehicles are allowed to pollute more than regular passenger cars. Car manufacturers have the widest profit margins in the sale of these popular vehicles.
California's Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger described the ruling as "another win for the environment and for consumers."
"Clearly, automobile companies have the capability to produce environmentally friendly cars," he said.
"Today's court ruling underscores the need for the federal government to step in and provide the extra push necessary to make these vehicles widespread."
California Attorney General Edmund Brown, himself a former governor, described the ruling as "a major victory and a stunning rebuke to the Bush administration and its failed energy policies."
Earlier Thursday Schwarzenegger was at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where he showcased environmentally friendly vehicles.
At the show "I saw first hand how automobile companies are harnessing new technologies to create cleaner and more fuel efficient cars," the former movie actor said.
Schwarzenegger and Brown, himself a former governor, on November 8 sued the US government to secure approval for the state's tough new proposals aimed at slashing vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.
California passed legislation in 2002 requiring automakers to reduce vehicle emissions by 30 percent by 2016. As many as 16 other US states have reportedly indicated they will adopt California's emissions levels.
However, for the law to take effect, California requires approval with a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency, which has so far not been forthcoming, despite a request having been filed in December 2005.
Analysts say the EPA and the Bush administration have dragged their feet over California's demands because of fears of the effect it may have on the struggling US auto industry.
Schwarzenegger has made the environment a key issue of his tenure, signing a historic bill in September 2006 that saw the state become the first in the US to impose limits on global warming gases.
Under the plan, California will aim to slash the state's carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent by the year 2020, a figure that Schwarzenegger has said is equivalent to removing 6.5 million vehicles from the road.