Schwarzenegger to Obama: Act on California Clean Cars Program

January 22, 2009

(Washington — January 22, 2009) California’s Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger  yesterday formally asked President Barack Obama to “immediately reconsider” the Bush administration’s denial of California’s Clean Car program to cut global warming pollution.

In a letter calling the 2008 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.” 
Derek Walker, Director of Environmental Defense Fund’s California Climate Initiative stated:   “President Obama has committed to make respect for the rule of law a touchstone of his presidency. We salute that commitment and ask that he give California the right, unlawfully denied by the Bush administration, to implement its long-delayed plans to reduce global warming pollution from cars.”
In 2005, California asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant a preemption waiver under the Clean Air Act to enable California’s enforcement of the nation’s first ever program to reduce global warming pollution from motor vehicles.   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 more than 50 waiver requests from California. 
Thirteen 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 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. 
The U.S. auto industry has undertaken extensive litigation to derail the Clean Cars program in courts nationwide; all legal challenges have failed.   Instead of litigating, these considerable resources could have been dedicated to innovating.  
California’s program provides for a flexible fleetwide 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 and a 27 percent reduction by 2030.   The standards can be readily achieved through available engine technologies, cleaner fuels and mitigation of air conditioning emissions.   
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