It took President Barack Obama less than four months in office to reverse the former Bush Administration's longheld policies opposing California's efforts to enforce tougher vehicle greenhouse emission and fuel efficiency standards.
On May 19 Obama announced that not only will California gets its long-sought waiver to begin enforcing the tougher rules but that the federal government itself will adopt and implement standards that closely mirror those of California's, officials said. The president's announcement brings to an end a six-year legal war between California and regulators with Bush's Environmental Protection Agency who steadfastly opposed the Golden State's efforts.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was pleased with the president's actions.
relentless push for greenhouse gas reductions from automobiles is
paying off not just for our state, but for all Americans, for our
environment, for automakers and our economy. This historic agreement to
reduce greenhouse gases will mean cleaner air for our children and
grandchildren, greater economic security as we rely less on foreign
oil, and a chance at renewal for our auto industry. Today, we're seeing
what happens when California leads on energy and the environment and
doesn't waiver, doesn't get bogged down, doesn't let obstacles get in
the way," Schwarzenegger said in a statement released Monday evening.
U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, noted that the Obama Administration will also raise the fuel efficiency target to a 35.5 mile per gallon average:
"The Obama Administration's announcement that it's setting tough new standards for tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide from new automobiles is great news," Capps said in a statement. "The historic agreement between the federal government, the state of California, and the automakers confronts our nation's addiction to oil head on, marking the first time the U.S. will adopted a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions."
One of California's first collective efforts to combat global warming began in July 2002 when then Gov. Gray Davis signed into law Assemblywoman Fran Pavley's AB 1493, which was first-of-its-kind legislation requiring car makers to limit heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions in all new cars and trucks sold in the state.
Late comment on the announcement from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein as of 7:27 a.m. Wednesday, May 19:
Calling it a "huge victory," Feinstein said:
The fuel economy approach announced by the White House today fulfills the mandate and the structure of the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act, which I championed with Senator Snowe for many years. This proposed rule-making will achieve the 35 miles per gallon target in almost half the time - and it establishes a national standard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in line with California's Pavley emissions standard. This will align, for the first time ever, the emissions and fuel economy standards issued by the State of California, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And the deal provides the automakers the certainty and the flexibility they need to comply with these rigorous new fuel economy and emissions targets. I applaud the White House for bringing all parties to the table - California officials, the automakers, the autoworkers, environmental leaders, EPA and NHTSA - and getting everyone to sign on the dotted line for an ambitious standard. This is a milestone that was many years in the making.