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California Court Upholds Dismissal of Transportation Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit upheld a prior dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the California Construction Trucking Association (CCTA) against the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) diesel engine emissions regulations. The judges in the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the case based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction for a federal preemption challenge to a California environmental regulation regardingdiesel trucks in the state.

Facts of the Case

In the case ofCalifornia Dump Truck Owners Association v. Mary D. Nichols & Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., in 2008, CARB adopted the Truck and Bus Regulation to help the state meet the federal EPA standards for fine particulate matter and ozone. “Broadly speaking, it requires heavy-duty diesel trucks, whose emissions contribute significantly to PM and ozone pollution, to be upgraded with pollution filters and lower-emission engines,” and it took effect on January 1, 2012.

The California Dump Truck Owners Association, now the CCTA, argued that the state of California had violated the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act that “prohibits states from enacting any law, rule, or regulation affecting the price, routes or services of motor carriers,” and filed suit in April 2011. The CCTA claimed that as a result of the regulation, its motor carrier members would have to increase prices and alter their routes and services to offset the costs of complying with the regulation.

Throughout this time, the regulation passed the inspection of the EPA and was incorporated into federal law. As a result, in December 2012 the trial court dismissed the suit after finding that it no longer had subject matter jurisdiction over the case. It further found that, even if it retained jurisdiction, dismissal was proper under the federal rules of civil procedure because the EPA was a necessary and indispensable party. The CCTA appealed both grounds for the district court’s dismissal.

Ruling of the Court

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling of the lower district court, holding that “the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the regulation as part of California’s state implementation plan divested the district court of jurisdiction” under theClean Air Act. The judges held that the dismissal hinged on a technicality that requires the EPA to be a part of the proceedings, which the initial lawsuit brought by the CCTA did not do.

The CCTA disagrees with the appellate court’s ruling, calling the decision “disappointing but not surprising. At virtually every step of the way, well-funded environmental groups united with CARB delayed the case and prevented the courts from hearing the merits of our federal preemption argument. In addition, the group claims that the original lawsuit never directly challenged the Clean Air Act or the EPA’s adoption of the state’s regulation. According to the group’s spokesperson, the group plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Contact a California Transportation Law Attorney

If you have questions regarding how this ruling may affect your transportation business or have other questions regarding transportation law in Pleasanton, Alameda County, or the Tri-Valley area let the experienced attorneys atGarcia & Gurney help. Call the office orcontact us today for a confidential review of your case.

CA Upholds Dismissal Diesel 10Mar15


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