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EPA Recognizes Science, Legal Precedent in Granting State Waiver to Implement Clean Car Standards, Science Group Says
WASHINGTON - June 30 - Today's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement granting California and 13 other states a waiver under the Clean Air Act to implement strong clean car standards demonstrates that "with regard to the waiver, science is back in the driver's seat", said Brendan Bell, Washington representative for the Union of Concerned Scientists' (UCS) Clean Vehicles Program. "Along with last Friday's climate victory in the House, this is another sign that the federal government is finally taking action on global warming."
Patricia Monahan, director of UCS's California office and deputy director of its Clean Vehicles Program, pointed out that the Bush administration's December 2007 decision was the first and only time that the federal government has denied California a waiver for controlling vehicle emissions. By law the state has the right to set its own air pollution standards.
"California and other states stepped up to the plate to protect their citizens from the threat of climate change, when the federal government wasn't even in the game," Monahan said. "State action to find solutions for global warming has helped transform political reality at the federal level."
Indeed, California's groundbreaking work on vehicle tailpipe standards prodded the federal government to follow suit. In May, President Obama announced an agreement among the state of California, the federal government and the auto industry that the EPA and Department of Transportation will develop standards for heat-trapping emissions from cars and trucks that will be at least as strong as California's. As part of this agreement, California is expected to enforce its standards for 2009 to 2011 and then look to the federal government to implement equivalent standards for 2012 to 2016. Today's waiver will allow California to implement even stronger standards in the future. The state is expected to start developing new standards for the post-2016 model years later this year.
When President Obama announced the agreement, he called for steady progress, beginning in 2012, toward a minimum fleetwide standard of 250 grams of heat-trapping emissions per mile by 2016. A UCS analysis found that such a standard would:
-- curb U.S. oil dependence by about 1.4 million barrels per day by 2020, nearly as much as the United States currently imports from Saudi Arabia.
-- cut 230 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020, equivalent to taking 34 million of today's cars and light trucks off the road that year.
-- provide net savings to consumers of $30 billion in 2020, even after covering the cost of technology improvements, based on a gas price of $2.25 per gallon.
-- provide $70 billion in net savings in 2020 if gas prices spike to $4 per gallon.