Statement by EDF Executive Director David Yarnold on Presidential Actions on Energy and Climate

January 26, 2009
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Statement by EDF Executive Director David Yarnold on Presidential Actions on Energy and Climate:

 
(Washington, DC- January 26, 2009) “President Obama’s action today is a bold first step toward fixing some tough problems.  The President is being very smart about this, looking at the economy and environment in a comprehensive way.  He’s rejecting the approach that brought us failing car companies and more pollution, and moving to create jobs, cut our oil addiction, and protect the environment.
 
“The President’s announcement, along with his determination to move forward on a cap on carbon pollution, shows us that he really gets it.  I think President Obama, the business community, and the American people are tired of the same old arguments and scare tactics – there is an emerging consensus that we need to build a new economy that creates jobs and protects our environment.
 
“The President plan -- including the next step of a cap on carbon pollution -- means more new jobs, a rebirth for the American auto industry, and less global warming pollution.  If today’s announcement is the start of a comprehensive policy like that, I’d say that's pretty darn good for the first week in office.”
 
Statement by EDF California Initiative Campaign Director Derek Walker on the President Obama's Announcement on California Clean Cars:
 
“The President’s action today will cut global warming pollution, reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and strengthen our national security, and save American families money at the gas pump. 
 
“President Obama and Governor Schwarzenegger provide a powerful bipartisan punch in the fight against global warming. By working together, America can forge lasting solutions that revitalize our economy and address the climate crisis. The President’s leadership gives Americans hope that we will win the race against time to enact a national cap on heat-trapping gases and build a prosperous clean energy economy.
 
“The approach is also good news for families in tough economic times.  California found that low-income households driving a clean vehicle would reduce gasoline consumption by about 100 gallons annually and would save about $360 in fuel costs alone in 2020, assuming a gas price of $3.67 a gallon.   The net savings for low income households are projected to be $300 a year when the annualized costs are included. 
 
“California’s program provides for a flexible fleet-wide average to achieve the standards, which were scheduled to take effect for new vehicles beginning in model year 2009.   California estimates that by 2020, the standards would secure an 18 percent reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars. The standards can be readily achieved through available engine technologies, cleaner fuels and mitigation of air conditioning emissions.”
Background
 
Pollution from Cars Has Risen 
 
Cars and light trucks are one of America’s largest sources of global warming pollution, and the fastest growing. Cars and light trucks account for nearly one-third of greenhouse gas emission in California and about 16 percent of U.S. global warming pollution.   Nationally, this pollution soared by 25 percent between 1990 and 2005.
 
California and Bipartisan States Have Led the Way
 
In a 2002 landmark law, California enacted the nation’s first ever binding limits on global warming pollution from passenger vehicles. Thirteen bipartisan states across the country have adopted California’s standards and are waiting favorable EPA action to enforce the greenhouse gas emission limitations, including: Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.   States such as Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, and Utah are considering adoption of the Clean Cars program.   Collectively, motor vehicles in these states comprise about one-half of the U.S. market and half the U.S. population. 
 
A Flexible Program to Cut Heat-Trapping Gases From Passenger Vehicles
 
California’s program provides for a flexible fleetwide average to achieve the standards, which were scheduled to take effect for new passenger vehicles beginning in model year 2009.   The program is projected to cut emissions from new vehicles 30 percent by 2016.    Assuming retirements of existing vehicles and penetration of new cleaner vehicles in the fleet, California estimates that by 2020, the standards would secure an 18 percent reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars. The standards can be readily achieved through available engine technologies, cleaner fuels and mitigation of air conditioning emissions.  
 
Progress Obstructed by the Bush Administration. 
 
California requested a preemption waiver under the Clean Air Act in 2005. But the Bush administration’s EPA denied the request.   Under federal law, EPA shall grant California’s request to administer more protective motor vehicle emission standards unless EPA 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 over thirty years EPA has issued a denial despite reviewing and granting more than 50 waiver requests from California. 
 
Governor Schwarzenegger Asks President Obama to Take Corrective Action
 
Last week, California’s Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger formally asked President Barack Obama to “immediately reconsider” the Bush administration’s 2008 denial of California’s Clean Cars program to cut global warming pollution. In a January 21, 2009 letter calling the denial by the Bush administration’s EPA “fundamentally flawed,” Governor Schwarzenegger said approving California’s landmark program “will not only reduce these emissions, but will also save drivers money and reduce our nation’s dependence on imported oil.”
 
Fuel Cost Savings for Low Income Households
 
California found that low-income households driving a clean vehicle would reduce gasoline consumption by about 100 gallons annually and would save about $360 in fuel costs alone in 2020, assuming a gas price of $3.67 a gallon.   The net savings for low income households are projected to be $300 a year when the annualized costs are included.