EPA Adopts First National Greenhouse Gas Pollution Standards in U.S. History

April 1, 2010



Tony Kreindler, National Media Director, Climate, 202-445-8108, tkreindler@edf.org
Pamela Campos, Deputy General Counsel, 720-205-2366, pcampos@edf.org

(Washington – March 22, 2010) The Obama administration today finalized new fuel economy benchmarks and the first national standards for greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. history, putting the nation on a path to more efficient fuel use and significant pollution reductions from cars and light trucks over the next two decades.

“These standards deliver a trifecta of benefits to Americans: less dependence on Middle Eastern oil, less pollution, and more savings at the gas pump,” said Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp. “Cleaner cars will deliver immediate results as the Senate finishes work on bipartisan climate and energy legislation.”

The new standards from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation will apply to model year 2012 to 2016 vehicles, improving fuel efficiency by about five percent annually and reducing fleet-wide greenhouse gases 21 percent by 2030.

These passenger vehicles account for about 40 percent of all U.S. oil consumption and nearly 20 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The standards require vehicles to meet a combined average emissions level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per mile in 2016, comparable to 35.5 miles per gallon.

Today’s action responds to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court mandate and will carry out President Obama’s landmark May 19th accord with major automakers, the Governor of California, the United Auto Workers’ Union, and environmental groups. Passenger cars and light-trucks emit nearly 20 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gases in the form of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons. In December, EPA found that these four contaminants and two other greenhouse gases endanger the human health and welfare of current and future generations.

California and 13 other states – Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – adopted state clean car standards that provided the foundation for national scale emission standards.

The new national standards will save consumers approximately $3,000 in fuel costs over the life of a 2016 model year car, and begin breaking America’s addiction to foreign oil. EPA projects the standards would cut carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 960 million metric tons and 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.

Cars, sport utility vehicles, minivans, pickup trucks used for personal transportation and passenger vehicles emit about 60 percent of all mobile source greenhouse gases, the nation’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases.
The standards will strengthen national security by curbing America’s reliance on foreign oil and by beginning to address climate-disrupting emissions that exacerbate geopolitical instability. Military leaders have pointedly recognized these dual policy imperatives:
“We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today … [o]r we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives.” Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, former commander of U.S. Central Command. Source: John M. Broder, Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security, N.Y. Times, Aug. 9, 2009.

“Energy security and a sound response to climate change cannot be achieved by pursuing more fossil fuels. Our nation requires diversification of energy sources and a serious commitment to renewable energy. Not simply for environmental reasons—for national security reasons.” Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN, Retired, Member of CNA Military Advisory Board. Source: Statement of Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, July 21, 2009, at 4, available at http://foreign.senate.gov/testimony/2009/McGinnTestimony090721p.pdf.

“Our dependence on foreign oil reduces our international leverage, places our troops in dangerous global regions, funds nations and individuals who wish us harm, and weakens our economy; our dependency and inefficient use of oil also puts our troops at risk.” CNA Military Advisory Board Report—Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security. Source: General Charles F. “Chuck” Wald et al., CNA Military Advisory Board, Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security, at i (2009), available at http://www.cna.org/documents/PoweringAmericasDefense.pdf.


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