Sunday, August 26, 2007

Air District Regulations and Preemption

On August 20, 2007, the Ninth Circuit held that South Coast Air Quality Management District requirements that California government agencies purchase low-emission vehicles for their fleets are not preempted by the federal Clean Air Act. The decision is based on California's right, under the "market participant doctrine," to choose the type of vehicles that the state will purchase for its own use. The Ninth Circuit did not reach the issue whether the same type of rules, as applied to private fleets, would be preempted, but instead remanded the case to the district court for a determination whether the "fleet rules" would be preempted. Although the decision's impact is limited, it is nevertheless an important precedent in the continuing tug of war between the federal government and California over emissions limitations.


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