When you sum up the arguments being offered against Maryland's acceptance of a nine-state agreement to adopt California's new auto-emissions standard, it comes down to: try something else first. That's not surprising, when the opposition comes from automakers, car dealers and the oil industry. What is surprising, considering Maryland's plan, is that the chief complainers have already agreed to do most of what regulators seek.
California is a big state. Its air-quality program already has forced automakers to install different anti-pollution technology on cars. Thus, authorities say, 40 percent of the cars on Maryland's roads are "50-state" certified, i.e., good enough for California's existing standards, too. Now the issue is whether there will be another Maryland upgrade to match California's new standards.
Car dealers fear a competitive disadvantage favoring Virginia dealers, since Virginia this week rejected the new standards. Yet any Marylander buying an out-of-state auto that does not meet the new emissions standard would have to add Maryland-required pollution controls. And manufacturers are far more likely to deliver cars certified for 50 states, i.e., meeting federal standards as well as California's, than a California-only car. Look at all those 50-state cars already in Maryland.