There is no doubt that the executive branch of our federal government is embroiled in plenty of conflicts these days, ranging from small to very large.
The battle with California and its allies ranks as a very significant one. It has been going on for quite some time, and the White House has finally gotten around to saying no.
Few issues have been more controversial than who has the right to set emission standards for automobiles — the federal government or individual states.
Under the program set by the previous administration, everyone would have had to meet the same very tough standard. Now that those rules are being rolled back, California is fighting to keep its federally granted authority to go its own way and is taking the issue to court.
Separate emission requirements have always been difficult and confusing.
The idea that a manufacturer would have to meet different standards from state to state has been a real problem. I remember when several states wanted to have a different horn volume, which would have created chaos for everyone. Happily, the idea was rejected and died a quiet and quick death.
I have no doubt that the effort to standardize emission limits will create a long and expensive court battle to finally settle the controversy. In the meantime, there will be a great deal of yelling and screaming.
This has the potential to be the fight of the year.
It will certainly be more bitter than the long and controversial debate over mandatory airbags, which never became a state vs. national issue.
Having dual emission standards for different parts of the country is a nightmare for manufacturers, not to mention a big problem for dealers and consumers.
Regardless of who wins and who loses, it makes most sense to have a single standard. Let them all fight over just how tough it should be. That should be the issue. Let the games begin.