Legislative Memo


A.4082 (DiNapoli)



Greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles



March 25, 2003


The Business Council opposes this legislation which directs the Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt regulations imposing greenhouse gas emission limits on cars and light trucks. Under the provisions of A.4082, these regulations would be adopted by the end of 2005, and applicable to the 2009 and later model years.

Specifically, the bill requires the DEC to adopt regulations "identical to the California air emissions reduction regulations for the cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles." Under legislation approved in California last year, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is required to adopt regulations that "achieve the maximum feasible and cost-effective" reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. CARB is directed to finalize its regulations by January 1, 2005, with the applicability beginning with the 2009 model year.

The Business Council opposes this legislation for several reasons:

• It is premature for the state to act. Since CARB has not yet drafted regulations, we believe it is inappropriate for the state to commit to following their regulatory lead. Even the California legislature refused to accept the CARB's rule-making "sight unseen." Instead, it required CARB to give the legislature a full year to consider the regulatory proposal before it goes into effect.

• The legality of the California approach is still in question. Once CARB adopts its final regulation, those rules will be challenged in court as being contrary to the federal Clean Air Act (the Act.) While California has the statutory authority to adopt vehicle emission standards that are more stringent than required under the Act, there is currently no emission control technology available to control CO2 emissions from motor vehicles. Manufacturers believe that new greenhouse gas limits would have to be met primarily by affecting the average fuel economy of their fleets. As a result, this "greenhouse gas" rule is a de facto vehicle fuel efficiency standard – and states are precluded from imposing fuel efficiency standards under the Act.

• This legislation gives DEC no regulatory flexibility. For example, the DEC may determine that the California rules are too expensive, or result in unacceptable increases in other emissions. Unfortunately, A.4082 does not allow DEC to exercise any discretion to address these concerns. The bill also prevents New York from opting out of the California program in the event that new, federal greenhouse gas or fuel efficiency standards are adopted. Even the California legislation gave its state some flexibility in choosing between state-specific and nationwide emission standards.

Given the uncertainty of the outcome of California's rule-making process, and the uncertain legal status of the California statute, we believe it is premature for New York to be committing to the CARB regulatory program

Further, we believe that the state legislature needs to give greater consideration to the economic, vehicle safety and other impacts of adopting another state-level vehicle emission program.

For these reasons, The Business Council opposes adoption of A.4082.