From: Associated Press
Published May 10, 2005 12:00 AM

Federal Judge Says California Antismog Agency May Enforce Rules on Public Vehicles

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge has ruled that a Southern California clean-air agency may impose its antismog rules on city buses, waste haulers and other public fleet vehicles.


Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with oil companies and diesel engine manufacturers who claimed local pollution rules of the South Coast Air Quality Management District conflicted with national standards in the Clean Air Act.


The high court said the agency could not require private fleets to use engines that burn cleaner fuels, but it sent the case back to a lower court to determine whether the regulations could be applied to public fleets.


U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ruled Friday that the fleet rules are constitutional as applied to state and local governments.


The rules apply to Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties, which together have the nation's worst air quality.


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The restrictions, which were imposed in 2000, require private and public operators to buy cleaner-burning models when they replace or add vehicles to their fleets.


"This is a major victory for the AQMD," agency spokesman Sam Atwood said Monday. "This will allow us to move forward with the fleet rules to remove pollutants from diesel vehicles."


The agency believes the decision means its rules apply to private fleets operating under government contract, even though the judge did not address that question, Atwood said.


A spokesman for the Engine Manufacturers Association -- one of two industry groups that sued over the rules -- said the group disagreed with the ruling and was considering an appeal.


Source: Associated Press


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