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Auto industry plots counterattack against Calif. CO2 rules

From Automotive News| May 31,2007

Automakers are going back on the offensive against attempts by states to have their own limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said Tuesday that California regulators and their allies in other states have misled the public about the costs and benefits of their greenhouse gas rules. California and 11 other states seek a 30 percent cut in vehicle emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, by 2016. They say the cut will help fight global warming.

But the regulators, testifying in a federal trial in Vermont, contradicted their own public statements about the merit of California-style rules, the alliance contended in a briefing for reporters.

While under oath at the trial, they had to admit that the rules will have no effect on global climate change, that they did not fully consider the rules' detrimental effects on the industry and its products and that they know compliance will be almost impossible, according to the alliance.

The alliance briefing came in advance of a hearing Wednesday in Sacramento. The U.S. EPA is taking testimony on whether it should grant a waiver under the Clean Air Act so that California, and other states, can implement their rules.

Alliance attorney Andrew Clubok acknowledged that the EPA may be able to consider only some of the alleged contradictions -- mainly, that California rules, even if adopted nationwide, would have no measurable impact on temperatures. The alliance is highlighting for the public other concessions by regulators at the Vermont trial, chief among them that California-style rules would force the industry to produce smaller, less functional vehicles at higher costs.

At a first EPA hearing last week, dozens of witnesses from states and environmental groups spoke in favor of the waiver. Only one industry witness argued against it.

Now, the alliance appears ready to launch a major counteroffensive. The alliance represents the Detroit 3, Toyota and five other automakers.

Automakers and dealers also are continuing to challenge the rules in federal courts as an improper attempt by states to regulate fuel economy -- a function reserved by the federal government.

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