WASHINGTON -- April 14 -- In a huge victory for clean air and public health, the Washington State legislature passed landmark clean car legislation late last night. The Washington State Senate passed the legislation by a wide margin of 29-19 following passage in the House earlier this month. The bill now goes to Governor Christine Gregoire who is expected to sign the legislation into law.
"Washington families can now breathe easier," said Angela Silva of the Sierra Club's Cascade Chapter. "By cutting the pollution from our vehicles, we can reduce asthma attacks for our kids, as well as begin to protect Washington's coastline and snowpack from the effects of global warming."
The Clean Car legislation improves Washington's air quality by requiring vehicles sold in the state to meet California tailpipe pollution standards for smog, which are more stringent than Federal standards. Under the Clean Air Act, individual states are given the option of following federal tailpipe standards or they can choose to adopt California's stronger standards in order to make greater strides to improve air quality.
California's Clean Car rules contain a two step process. The first step is legislation to reduce smog pollution, which Washington passed last night. The second step is the adoption of the Pavley law - the nation's first tailpipe standards to reduce global warming pollution. These Pavley standards are currently being finalized in California. When that is completed, they will come into effect in Washington and other states that have adopted the California standards as well.
"Washington is the latest domino to fall to the campaign for clean cars," said Dan Becker, Director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming Program. "Automakers need to get off their tailpipes and make the clean cars Americans are demanding."
Already, eight other states -- California and seven Northeastern states -- have adopted California's stronger standards. Washington's adoption means that nearly 30 percent of the vehicles sold in the United States must meet the strongest pollution standards. In addition, Canada has just adopted automotive global warming reductions based on California's law, bringing the total to over 1/3 of North American auto sales.
"The automakers will find it financially impossible to make one clean set of cars for nine states and Canada and a dirty set for the rest," continued Becker. "The auto industry needs to face the fact that Americans want clean cars."