I saw this article and thought the comment on Toyota hybrids near the bottom
was interesting- "While hybrid technology has raised manufacturing costs,
Toyota Motor Corp., maker of the Prius hybrid, expects cost-cutting on
hybrid production to make the cars as profitable as traditional gasoline
models by 2010. By that point it expects to be selling 1 million hybrids a
Vermont could clear way for new U.S. emissions rules
May 11, 2007 - 9:00 am
BOSTON (Reuters) -- A Vermont judge could soon clear the way for nearly a
dozen states to surmount auto industry protests and limit emissions from
cars and light trucks to protect the environment, legal experts said.
The rural northeastern state in 2005 followed California's lead in calling
for a 30 percent cut in the amount of carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed
for global warming, emitted from automobiles starting with 2009 models. U.S.
automakers have sued both states, and Rhode Island, seeking to have the
Vermont's suit is the first to go to trial.
Arguments wrapped up on Tuesday, May 8, after nearly a month of testimony,
and legal experts expect U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions to rule
"This will be an important signal to the other cases, so I do anticipate
that there will be an important precedent set in this case," said Daniel
Esty, the director of Yale University's Center for Environmental Law and
The Vermont trial began shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an
unrelated case that carbon dioxide can be regulated as a pollutant,
rejecting a 2003 argument by the federal Environmental Protection Agency
that it did not have authority over carbon dioxide.
That finding, legal experts said, weakened the auto industry's argument that
the 10 states that have adopted the rules are overreaching in regulating
carbon dioxide emissions. Fuel efficiency is federally regulated.
"I expect Vermont to win, and I think the deference shown to the states as
sovereign entities by the Supreme Court recently sends a strong signal to
this court that it needs to be very deferential to Vermont's desire to
protect its air," Esty said.
However, Patrick Parenteau, director of Vermont Law School's Environmental
and Natural Resources Law Clinic, said Sessions could dismiss the suit or
simply delay ruling until the EPA takes up the issue.
"The probability here is that he is not going to issue any groundbreaking
ruling," Parenteau said. "It's not a decision he has to make and it's not a
decision he should make."
General Motors and DaimlerChrysler AG, with local auto dealers and trade
groups, said they could not meet the Vermont standards and would be forced
to stop doing business in the state as a result.
"I seriously doubt that if you gave me all the money in the world and the
same for all the other automakers that they could find enough resources ...
to do this work," Bob Lee, a vice president at DaimlerChrysler, testified in
Vermont, whose farm and tourist industries depend on cold winters and mild
summers, said the standards were realistic and crucial for maintaining a
"They have some years, because they don't even start until 2009 at the
earliest and then slowly ramp up, but it's a matter of committing to it,"
said Brad Kuster, an attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation, an
advocacy group assisting Vermont and California on the legal issue.
The U.S. auto industry has been slower than its Asian rivals in adopting
energy-saving technologies, such as hybrid engines. Hybrids couple a
traditional gasoline engine with an electric motor to reduce fuel
consumption and emissions.
While hybrid technology has raised manufacturing costs, Toyota Motor Corp.,
maker of the Prius hybrid, expects cost-cutting on hybrid production to make
the cars as profitable as traditional gasoline models by 2010. By that point
it expects to be selling 1 million hybrids a year.
California adopted its standard from concern that the national government
was doing too little to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. U.S. clean air
laws allow the West Coast state to implement stricter standards, which other
states can adopt.
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and
Washington have also adopted the new California rule, and Arizona, Maryland
and New Mexico are considering it.