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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

 

Automakers challenge Vermont emission law

This article concerns the emissions law that congress told the Bush administration to rethink. Vermont as well as ten other states wants to cut the carbon dioxide emitted by automobiles by 30%. However, Vermont is the first state that will take their case to trial against the auto industry. The auto companies (GM and DaimlerChrysler) claim that the 10 individual states pushing for the law are overstepping their boundaries in trying to regulate vehicle emissions. Charles Territo, A spokesperson for the auto manufacturers states; “This trial is about whether or not states have the authority to set their own fuel-economy standards. And we will argue that they don't."

The Constitution doesn’t give congress the power to regulate production (Although in many cases The Supreme Court has granted congress this very power). The new law would involve individual states regulating the production of cars in their respective state in order to lower carbon dioxide emissions. As long as the state government doesn’t create a monopoly or a market failure, they should be able to regulate (not prohibit) the production of automobiles. As far as I can see, there is no market failure of any sort involved. Nor do I see any infringement on the liberties of the auto manufacturers. All that Vermont and the other nine states are asking is for manufacturers to lessen the emissions that their cars produce. Under the constitution and using my general understanding of liberty, I see no reason why any court would rule in favor of the auto companies.

Comments:
"The new law would involve individual states regulating the production of cars in their respective state in order to lower carbon dioxide emissions."

Maybe. But, perhaps there is another way to look at this situation. Vermont may be trying to regulate the production of autos that actually happens in Michigan. I would certainly think your characterization makes sense if the auto that is regulated in produced in Vermont.

Of course, I don't think a state government can have the power to regulate the production of any good that is produced in another state. So, if this is an accurate characterization, if a state says autos sold here must meet certain emission standards, would that essentially be an effort to regulate interstate commerce? Wouldn't such a law seem to be an effort to erect a trade barrier between states?
 
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