California CO2 law has gaping loopholes for imports

The state of California has made a lot of noise about their attempts to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide from cars and effectively increase fuel efficiency requirements. Big carmakers have been fighting the rules because they want a single national standard to deal with. However, there may be another reason that they don't like the California regs that could be even more important. The rules only apply to manufacturers that sell an average of over 60,000 vehicles annually for three years. That means that only the three domestics, Toyota, Nissan and Honda would be affected. Companies like VW, Hyundai, Mercedes and others would only have to meet the federal requirements. That exemption goes through 2016 but even after that time the rules are vague about what happens.
While it makes sense to offer some exemptions to low volume automakers like Ferrari and Lotus, the federal threshold of 10,000 sales makes more sense than 60,000 in California alone. Leaving a hole like that just provides a means for companies that come in just below the limit to game the system by withholding certain models for sale in the state. Then there is the issue of all the other states that want to follow California's lead. Will they set different thresholds or exempt manufacturers based on their sales in California? Given that markets are not uniform across the country, this could get very messy, very quickly. Consumers in certain states might be able to by certain models that neighboring states could not. If Congress wants to support California's standards, they should just adopt it as a federal standard instead of grandstanding by passing legislation forcing the EPA to grant a waiver to the state.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

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