Washington State’s Adoption of CARB Rules Upheld by Judge

Despite Loss, WTA Says 'Ceding Authority to an Unelected Body in Another State Had to Be Challenged'; No Appeal Expected
Washington state truck parking lot
Trucks parked in a lot in North Bend, Wash. The California Air Resources Board regulations the state adopted aim to wind down the sale of motor vehicles with traditional combustion engines. (Google Street View)

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A Washington judge has tossed out an effort by two Republican lawmakers to prevent the state Ecology Department from adopting California’s zero-emission regulations without legislative approval.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy recently dismissed the lawsuit brought earlier this year by state Sen. Michael Padden and Rep. Chris Corry against the state of Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee, the state Department of Ecology and its director, Laura Watson, in her official role.

When Padden — an attorney who has served in the state Senate since 2011 — launched the court action, he described it as vitally important to protecting the state’s sovereignty. “Washington state’s elected legislators must make laws in Washington state, not legislators from the state of California,” he said.

Padden and Corry were represented by a Washington state nonprofit watchdog group called the Citizen Action Defense Fund, which focuses on fighting back against government overreach.

Carol Murphy


At issue was the state Department of Ecology’s adoption of California’s zero-emission regulations. The suit maintains that the unelected group of state officials made the move without affording Washington residents a chance to participate in a hearing or provide public comment. The California Air Resources Board regulations the state adopted aim to wind down the sale of motor vehicles with traditional combustion engines.

In her dismissal, Murphy determined “beyond doubt” that the two legislators could “prove no set of facts, consistent with the complaint” against state officials and the Ecology Department. Further, she deemed as “proper” the Legislature’s delegation of power to the Ecology Department.

Sheri Call


“The undisputed record before the Court establishes that Ecology complied with the direction provided by the Legislature and no separation of powers concern is present. No authority was cited by plaintiffs to support a different conclusion,” Murphy deemed, adding that this “cause of action fails as a matter of law. … the Court does not find any violation with Ecology’s procedure in adopting the zero-emission vehicle rule.”

Washington Trucking Associations supported the lawsuit, and WTA President and CEO Sheri Call expressed disappointment with the court defeat.

“We appreciate the efforts of the Citizen Action Defense Fund and Senator Padden and Representative Corry. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a good result, but the issue of ceding authority to an unelected body in another state had to be challenged,” she said.

Jackson Maynard, CADF executive director, was likewise disappointed in the judge’s decision. “CADF wholeheartedly disagrees with the court’s ruling and knows we are right on the law. However, the risks associated with appealing were too great, and counsel’s recommendation was to not proceed with an appeal,” Maynard said.

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