UPDATE, 2:55 PM: The Associated Press is reporting that fourteen other states will be joining the lawsuit-- including Illinois, which hasn't yet enacted the California standards but likely will in the near future.
Two years after California first sought to enforce stricter auto emissions standards, things have finally come to this. And it could be just the beginning:
Johnson's decision, whenever it comes, is not likely to settle the years-old conflict involving California, the Bush administration and the world's automakers over the right to regulate climate-warming emissions from vehicles.
Environmental groups backing the state say they'll sue the EPA if Johnson rules against California. Ann Carlson, a professor of environmental law at UCLA, said she expects the auto industry to do the same if the ruling favors the state.
The auto industry's response has been sadly predictable: lying about the implications. Reporter Jim Downing doesn't correct the record directly, but his write-up does contain the response to their spin (emphasis added):
"Enhancing energy security and improving fuel economy are priorities to all Americans, but a patchwork quilt of regulations at the state level is not the answer," said Dave McCurdy, chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, in a statement.
Under the Clean Air Act, California has the unique authority to set its own air pollution standards – if it can convince the federal EPA that the state faces "compelling and extraordinary conditions" that require especially strict pollution controls. If the EPA agrees, it issues the state a waiver, opening the door for other states to enforce similar regulations.
Already, 11 other states have passed laws copying AB 1493, and governors in five more have announced plans to follow suit.
That's "copying AB 1493," not a patchwork quilt of varying state regulations. There would be two simple, concrete options here for the states-- California standards and federal standards-- just like each of the 50-plus times California has gotten a waiver to go beyond the bare-minimum pollution standards prescribed by the Clean Air Act. We've been living under that system for the last four decades, and the sky hasn't fallen as a result the last time we looked.