State Authority to Regulate Mobile Source Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Part 2: A Legislative and Statutory History Assessment
98 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2019 Last revised: 12 Dec 2019
Date Written: September 17, 2019
In September 2019, the Trump Administration finalized regulations to dramatically upend the nation’s approach to regulating greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks by determining that California’s emissions standards are preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA).
This article reviews the relevant statutory and legislative history to evaluate the Administration’s position. Specifically, the article examines the history of EPCA, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and a number of subsequent Congressional acts, including the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015. The article finds abundant evidence of Congress’s consistent intent to ensure that state emissions standards are protected from preemption. Importantly, this evidence is not limited to the ample legislative history. It also includes statutory history – actual changes in the law that demonstrate Congress’ desire to preserve state authority to adopt and enforce greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and trucks. While the interpretative value of legislative history has been discounted in recent years, statutory history remains relevant in the interpretation of law to even the staunchest textualist.
The article discusses why this history is compelling and concludes that the best reading of the law is that Congress has preserved – not encroached upon – California’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.
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