On Tuesday, President Barack Obama and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will announce an historic blueprint to carry out rigorous greenhouse gas emission standards for passenger cars and trucks while giving the nation's automakers the certainty of cohesive regulatory standards. By model year 2016, the new federal standards would achieve, on a national basis, the 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions provided for under California's own landmark clean cars program.
"This is a bipartisan trifecta that achieves climate protection, economic prosperity and energy security for all Americans," said Derek Walker, Director of the California Climate Initiative, Environmental Defense Fund.
Under the agreement, EPA would grant California's request to enforce its state clean car standards while the U.S. develops harmonized national emission standards and fuel economy standards under federal law. Significantly, the nation's automakers would drop long-standing litigation over the state clean car standards.
Significant Reductions at Stake
According to a 2008 analysis by California, national motor vehicle standards of comparable rigor to the California standards would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 by 200 million tons more than the nation's fuel economy standards.
Regional Interests Can Work Together
The new agreement, to be announced formally by the White House tomorrow, brings together broad bipartisan geopolitical interests. By forging common ground with mid-western automakers, heartland labor interests, coastal Governors and environmentalists, the White House and Congressional leaders are demonstrating that diverse interests can work together in the nation's drive to comprehensive climate legislation.
History of the California Clean Car Program
In 2005, California asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant a preemption waiver under the Clean Air Act to enable California's enforcement of the nation's first-ever program to reduce global warming pollution from motor vehicles. Under federal law, the EPA shall grant California's request to administer more protective motor vehicle emission standards unless the agency affirmatively finds that the state does not need the standards to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions. EPA denied California's request in 2008, the first time in more than 30 years that the EPA has issued a denial despite reviewing more than 50 waiver requests from California.
President Obama asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to re-consider this denial and EPA proposed to collaborate with California and other states in the new Administration.
Thirteen states across the country have adopted California's standards and are waiting favorable EPA action to enforce the greenhouse gas emission limitations. The states include Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Collectively, motor vehicles in these states comprise about 40 percent of the U.S. market. The U.S. auto industry has undertaken extensive litigation to derail the Clean Cars program in courts nationwide.