WASHINGTON DC (11/01/2022) – The Institute for Energy Research has filed an amicus brief in the DC Circuit in the case of Ohio et al v. the Environmental Protection Agency in which a coalition of states, industry petitioners, and trade associations are challenged the granting of a waiver to the state of California to impose California regulations on the national car market. Backed by a coalition of organizations supporting freer energy markets, the IER brief clearly articulates that this waiver to California is: (1) contrary to the Constitution, (2) contrary to the will of Congress, and (3) contrary to recent Supreme Court precedents.

(1) Equal sovereignty among the states is a core Constitutional principle. Each state must be treated the same and have the same powers, the federal government cannot privilege one state over the others. The granting of this waiver de facto makes California the national regulator of the motor vehicle industry in violation of basic equal sovereignty among the states.

(2) In the 1970s, and continuously since then, Congress has clearly articulated that fuel economy standards must be set at the national level with the creation of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. States are expressly preempted from creating regulations on fuel economy, or regulations related to fuel economy. EPA’s granting of this waiver to California is directly contrary to that law because both the California zero-emission vehicle mandate and the state’s motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions regulations are related to motor vehicle fuel economy.

(3) With West Virginia v. EPA earlier this year, the Supreme Court articulated the major questions doctrine, holding that claims of broad powers to reorder entire industries must derive from a clear statement in statute from Congress. This waiver grants California the de facto authority to reorder the national motor vehicles industry; such vast authority must be specifically passed by Congress.

IER’s President, Tom Pyle, issued the following statement:

“The California waiver process was always a questionable constitutional construct because it gives California special status and power in federal regulatory matters. As long as that power was confined to California-specific issues, this unconstitutional situation could perhaps be tolerated. But now California seeks to use this power to reorder the entire national motor vehicle market.

California was twice correctly denied a waiver to do this, and the Biden administration’s effort to reinstate that waiver is unconstitutional, illegal, and contrary to Supreme Court precedent. Our amicus brief in support of the states and companies challenging that unconstitutional waiver explains these points and we strongly believe the DC Circuit should overturn the Biden administration’s action.”

Joining IER in filing the brief were the following organizations:

  • American Commitment
  • Americans for Tax Reform
  • Caesar Rodney Institute
  • California Policy Center
  • Center of the American Experiment
  • Freedom Foundation of Minnesota
  • Independent Women’s Law Center
  • Institute for Regulatory Analysis and Engagement
  • Rio Grande Foundation
  • The Energy & Environment Legal Institute
  • Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

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