In a huge win for Vermont’s environment, public health and energy security, the Obama administration announced new standards for automobile fuel economy and global warming emissions. An analysis done by VPIRG and its national affiliate Environment America found that these new federal standards – based on the “clean cars program” developed by California and adopted by 13 other states, including Vermont – will save Vermonters 29 million gallons of gasoline by 2016 as compared to the previous federal standards, while reducing emissions of global warming pollutants and providing a net economic savings to consumers.
Click here to read the analysis: “State Leadership and the National Clean Cars Program” >>>
Thanks to Vermont’s leadership, the cars and trucks of tomorrow will be cleaner and cost less to fuel than the vehicles of today.VPIRG applauds the efforts of state legislative leaders, the administration and its environmental agencies, and the Office of the Attorney General because had it not been for the leadership demonstrated by each of these state officials, this historic victory would not have been possible.
In addition to the significant expected gasoline savings, the new standards will also mean a reduction in global warming pollution in Vermont equivalent to eliminating the pollution from 52,775 of today’s cars for a year, as compared with the previous federal standards.
Vermont adopted the clean car standards in 2005, but the push for cleaner cars has been happening for decades. In the late 1960s, state officials in California responded to horrific air pollution in cities like Los Angeles by adopting the first-ever tailpipe emission standards for cars. This paved the way for federal adoption of vehicle standards in the Clean Air Act, though the Act allowed California to continue setting its own, tougher emission standards for cars, and enabled other states to adopt these standards.
In 2002, California enacted legislation designed to reduce global warming pollution from automobiles. This resulted in rules to reduce global warming pollution from new cars and light trucks by 30 percent by 2016 compared with 2002 levels – a step that would result in improved vehicle fuel economy.
Frustrated with federal inaction to address automobile emissions and fuel economy, 13 states – Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – soon moved to adopt the program.
Automakers and auto dealers took special aim at Vermont in attempting to kill the clean cars program. They challenged it in federal court while Attorney General Sorrell and state officials joined with environmental organizations to defend the state’s right to demand cleaner cars. In a landmark decision in September 2007, Judge William Sessions found that the industry had failed to show that it could not meet the tougher tailpipe standards, that the standards would endanger drivers, or that Congress had preempted states from adopting the California standards. Even then, obstruction by the Bush administration EPA kept the states from moving forward immediately.
In early 2009, as one of his first acts in office, President Obama instructed the EPA to reconsider California’s waiver request, which later resulted in EPA granting the waiver. In May, the Obama administration announced an agreement with the automakers and the state of California that enabled the creation of a single, national fuel economy/global warming emissions program for cars based on the California standards. The just-announced standards are the result of that effort. Despite the agreement between the Obama administration, automakers and California – and the fact that 80 percent of the public approves of stronger fuel economy standards for vehicles – the clean cars program still faces attacks. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s Dirty Air Act (S.J.Res. 26), for example, would effectively veto EPA’s scientific finding that global warming pollutants threaten human health and the environment – thereby blocking the standards. The companion resolution in the House – introduced by three separate sets of members, including the Republican leadership (H.J.Res. 77), Democrats Ike Skelton (MO) and Collin Peterson (MN; H.J.R. 76), and Republicans Jerry Moran (KS) and Marsha Blackburn (TN; H.J.Res. 66) – and three additional House bills (H.R. 391, H.R. 4396, H.R. 4572) also would block the clean cars program and otherwise undermine the Clean Air Act.
Weakening the Clean Air Act would be one of the worst moves Congress could make for Vermont’s environment. We know we can count on Vermont’s federal delegation oppose any and all efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act.
Click here to read the full report >>>