Big victory in a little state.

Some good news from Vermont:

When historians finally take stock, Vermont may look like the mouse that roared – the tiny state that brought the nation’s mighty auto industry to heel by requiring cars that emit fewer greenhouse gases.

This is one scenario that could unfold following a federal judge’s ruling Wednesday, which upheld a Vermont law patterned after California’s mandate that the carbon-dioxide emissions of cars sold in the state must be slashed 30 percent by 2016.

The judge’s finding – that federal fuel-economy laws are not in conflict with state emissions laws – is particularly significant, coming on the heels of a US Supreme Court decision in April. That ruling found that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions, legal experts say.

The key here is that last bit: Contrary to what the Bush Administration has been claiming, the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions.

This ruling is not only a key precedent for laws passed in 12 states regarding emissions from automobiles, but for the foundation it creates in setting federal guidelines for CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

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