County in New Mexico Halts Effort to Implement its Own Fuel Economy Rules

Auto Dealers Praise Decision

WASHINGTON (Feb. 17, 2009) - The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) today commended the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board in New Mexico for repealing a requirement that would have mandated fuel economy standards at the local level.

“The Albuquerque case illustrates how easily the 'patchwork' approach to fuel economy can get out of hand,” said John McEleney, NADA chairman and a multi-franchise dealer in Iowa. “If it weren't for litigation filed by New Mexico dealers and NADA, the city of Albuquerque would still be pressing forward.”

Bernalillo County had attempted to impose a fuel economy rule that would have made the city of Albuquerque and surrounding Bernalillo County the only U.S. city/county to have fuel economy  regulated at three levels-national, state and county. NADA filed suit last year to block the effort.

“What the county has done is meaningful; it shows that the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board recognizes that the patchwork approach to fuel economy is the wrong way to go,” McEleney said. “The proposed rule would have forced automakers to meet fuel economy standards at the county level which would have created chaos in the marketplace. It would have added hardships for the entire auto industry, including dealers and consumers."

The auto industry supports a single, national fuel economy standard as the best approach to achieve the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting energy security without further crippling the auto industry.

“New Mexico legislators should delay implementation of CARB's rule, and allow a national fuel economy standard-set by the Obama administration-to be given a chance to work and succeed,” McEleney said.

A comprehensive analysis released last month by NADA on the CARB rule that would allow individual states to regulate fuel economy standards found numerous unintended consequences that will cause economic harm and provide little or no environmental benefit over the proposed federal standards.

"With new national fuel economy standards expected to be finalized by the Obama administration by April 1, complying with the additional state standards would create a regulatory patchwork that would undermine the national fuel economy program at a time when the auto industry needs regulatory certainty and stability," Andy Koblenz, Vice President of Legal and Regulatory Affairs for NADA said. "Separate and apart from the stringency of standards set by the federal government or California, the establishment of 13 state-based fuel economy standards would cause rreparable harm to an already-struggling automobile industry."