Opening an editorial on the need for tougher auto emissions standards, the LA Times notes that the last few months have not been kind to the legal position of those standing in the way, and with good cause:
The auto industry and the Bush administration are now 0 for 3 in their attempts to block tighter fuel economy standards in court. There's a reason for their rotten record: They don't have a case. And the longer they delay taking action, the higher the price Americans will pay.
And it's looking like that losing streak might well continue.
Yesterday afternoon in Fresno, U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Ishii heard arguments on competing motions for summary judgment in the industry's lawsuit against California's tailpipe emissions standards. In a September 2006 opinion tossing out two of the auto industry's claims but denying the state's motion for summary judgment on three others, Ishii appeared fairly open to the industry's case regarding conflict preemption-- that is, the assertion that California's standards would conflict with and undermine the federal fuel economy regime. His opinion also seemed to throw cold water on the state's argument that its standards, if granted an EPA waiver, would automatically become a part of federal law and thus eliminate any conflict.
But according to Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle, the state's arguments about the impact of this spring's landmark Massachusetts v. EPA decision appear to have had a clear impact on the judge's thinking: