Obama Administration Embraces California Greenhouse Emissions Standards

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.

“California’s
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.