May 10, 2005 – A federal judge ruled Friday that a Southern California air pollution control agency can force state and local officials to use public fleet vehicles with engines that pollute less.
US District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper said that the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) can require state and local governments in Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties to replace diesel-powered vehicles - such as buses, garbage trucks, street sweepers and utility trucks - with alternatives powered by natural gas or other cleaner burning fuels.
Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that AQMD could not make the same requirements of privately owned fleet vehicles. The high court sent the case back to the lower court to decide on vehicles maintained by public agencies.
The State of California, along with several environmental groups, supported AQMD's efforts in the case. AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood told the Associated Press that, even though she did not address it directly, the judge's decision also applies to private fleets that operate under government contract.