WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Automobile Dealers Association cannot block an Environmental Protection Agency maneuver that would let California implement its own vehicle-emission standards, the D.C. Circuit ruled.
The two trade groups had argued that it was unreasonable to give California a waiver from federal preemption under the Clean Air Act because the state based its request on the need to fight global emissions of greenhouse gases, rather than its specific environmental conditions.
Asked to review the EPA’s order, a three-judge panel of the Washington-based federal appeals court never reached the merits of those arguments.
Instead, the court determined it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case because no actual harm had come to any member of either association.
“Because Article III [of the U.S. Constitution] limits federal judicial jurisdiction to cases and controversies, federal courts are without authority ‘to render advisory opinions [or] “to decide questions that cannot affect the rights of litigants in the case before them,”‘” Judge Merrick Garland wrote, citing Supreme Court precedent.
Garland said the business federation had “not identified a single member who was or would be injured by EPA’s waiver decision.”
Nor did the car association “assert that their dealer members had suffered an ‘actual’ injury at the time they filed their petition for review,” Garland added.
“Rather, their concern is about future injury,” the 35-page decision states.
The court did suggest that other challengers might have standing even though the EPA has since set national standards that might make the California waiver moot.
“If the suit had been brought on behalf of automobile manufacturers rather than dealers, however, it would not necessarily have been mooted by those developments provided that the manufacturers could persuasively show they would suffer additional injury from the costs of direct, albeit duplicative, regulation by California,” Garland wrote.