Appeals court upholds dismissal of CCTA lawsuit against CARB regs

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Find background on CARB’s Statewide Truck & Bus regulation, in addition to other rules, in our 2013 in-depth “Left-coast gamble” series.Find background on CARB’s Statewide Truck & Bus regulation, in addition to other rules, in our 2013 in-depth “Left-coast gamble” series.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a prior dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the California Construction Trucking Association against the California Air Resources Board’s diesel engine emissions regulations.

The Ninth Circuit’s March 3, 2015, decision “affirmed the dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction of a federal preemption challenge to a California environmental regulation addressing diesel trucks,” reads the decision.

CCTA (formerly the California Dump Truck Owners Association) had argued in a suit filed in March 2011 that California violated the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, “which prohibits states from enacting any law, rule, or regulation affecting the price, routes or services of motor carriers.”

The Ninth Circuit “affirmed the district court’s holding that the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the regulation as part of California’s state implementation plan divested the district court of jurisdiction” under the Clean Air Act. In essence, as previously reported, the dismissal hinges on a technicality that resides in what the court viewed as the CCTA’s necessary inclusion of the EPA itself in the filing.

The suit did not challenge the Clean Air Act, but rather the “burdensome Statewide Truck and Bus regulation,” CCTA says, calling the court’s decision “disappointing but not surprising. At virtually every step of the way, well-funded environmental groups united with CARB delayed the case and prevented the courts from hearing the merits of our federal preemption argument.”

Key to CCTA’s argument for appropriate jurisdiction in the case, it claims, is that at the time of the original filing “our lawsuit never directly challenged the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) or U.S. EPA’s adoption of California’s State Implementation Plan (SIP). At the time we sued CARB, the [board] was acting under state law – not federal law as claimed by the National Resources Defense Council,” an intervener in the case.

The Clean Air Act, significantly, “does not give the U.S. EPA regulatory authority over in-use equipment,” CCTA says. “We don’t believe it’s fair to our industry to be denied the benefit of protection from a federal law that was passed expressly to stop states from doing what California is doing.”

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According to Joe Rajkovacz, CCTA government affairs director, further action is under way: “We will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Read the Ninth Circuit’s full decision at this link.