Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This Just In: EPA denies CA Clean car standards

EPA Adminstrator Stephen Johnson just announced today that he plans to deny the waiver California applied for to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions from cars, SUVs and Trucks. Citing the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that President Bush signed into law today (the only major redeeming factor to the Energy Bill) Johnson stated that "The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution — not a confusing patchwork of state rules...I believe this is a better approach than if individual states were to act alone."

The newly adopted CAFE standards raise the average miles per gallon the vehicles sold in the U.S. must achieve to 35 mpg. While this creates a substantial jump in efficiency (meaning that in several years, the US will achieve the same efficiency as Chinese vehicles do now), the move to increase fuel economy is distinct from regulating tailpipe emissions. While less gas will be consumed to drive a vehicle under the new standards, regulating emissions as California proposes to do will result in more efficient combustion of gasoline and reductions in emissions above and beyond those the mileage standard will generate.

Although the greenhouse gas emissions released from the tailpipes of cars contribute to global warming, the EPA did not find that the California standard did not "meet compelling and extraordinary conditions" required to merit the waiver.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger responded to this decision in an official statement saying:

While the federal energy bill is a good step toward reducing dependence on foreign oil, the President's approval of it does not constitute grounds for denying our waiver. The energy bill does not reflect a vision, beyond 2020, to address climate change, while California's vehicle greenhouse gas standards are part of a carefully designed, comprehensive program to fight climate change through 2050.

In addition to California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have all adopted the California emissions standards — have adopted the California emissions standards, and the governors of Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Utah also plan to adopt them.

Despite this setback, work is still moving forward to get additional states to adopt the California emissions standards and to challenge this decision in the courts. Don't worry, this issue is not over - it has just experienced a road block.

Cross-posted on It's Getting Hot In Here

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