Following action by the state of Washington and Canada, more than one-third of vehicles sold in North America after 2009 will have to comply with regulations on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
In mid-April, Washington became the ninth U.S. state to set standards for controlling heat-absorbing carbon dioxide (C[O.sub.2]) as a pollutant. The same month, the Canadian government secured an agreement from automakers to voluntarily reduce emissions of the six GHGs targeted for cuts under the Kyoto Protocol: C[O.sub.2], methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.
California led the way in 2002 with the so-called Pavley law, which requires automakers to sell cars that emit 30 percent fewer GHGs by 2016. In order to meet this standard, which applies to all new vehicles starting in 2009, fuel economy will have to improve by an estimated 20-25 percent. Other states to adopt this target include Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Nine of the largest car manufacturers have challenged the Pavley law in court, claiming that U.S. states have stepped onto federal turf by regulating fuel efficiency. Although …