Reacting to the 9th Circuit's ruling on regulations directing public fleets to purchase low-emission or alternative fuel cars, the Engine Manufacturers Association has been spinning its legal loss as a defeat for local governments:
Local governments are true market participants and know the needs and resources of their communities. The fleet rules severely restrict their flexibility to make local purchasing decisions.
Yet gauging some of the coverage reacting to the decision, there's a lot of validation of the argument (voiced in our brief!) that state regulators' action has served as a widespread and effective market tool for reducing emissions. Take, for instance, this snippet from the LA Times' write-up:
An estimated 6,000 new vehicles, mostly powered by compressed natural gas, have been purchased by agencies in the region since the rules were put in place. Old school buses and other diesel vehicles are among the dirtiest on area roads, contributing to both diesel soot and smog. Purchasing new, alternative-technology vehicles might initially be more costly than buying diesel equipment, but it saves lives and costs over the long run, regulators said.
Angelo Bellomo, director of environmental health and safety for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said the district has replaced about 10 percent of its school bus fleet with compressed natural gas units, largely by aggressively applying for and winning grant money.
"It's a stretch to do this, yes, but it's worth it," he said.
Further coverage in the state and local media emphasizes (via solid analysis from the National Resources Defense Counsel 's David Petit) that the South Coast AQMD, far from going outside of its scope of permitted action, actually spurred significant changes that are beneficial both environmentally and economically. The court's recognition of this valid role will, in turn, likely spur further innovative solutions by state and local policymakers (if it hasn't been doing so already).