Obama Takes First Climate Actions

President Barack Obama yesterday directed the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its March 2008 decision to block California and 13 other states from using tailpipe emission standards to reduce global warming pollution from cars and light trucks. 

The President also directed the Department of Transportation to move
forward with standards to improve the efficiency of vehicles nationwide starting with the model year 2011. In 2007, Congress passed the first increase in fuel economy standards in 32 years, but the Bush administration never finalized the standards to implement the increase.

"The days of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration will not deny facts, we will be guided by them," Obama said.

In 2005, California adopted first-of-their-kind standards requiring cars and light-duty trucks to limit emissions that contribute to global warming. The standards would cut global warming emissions from passenger vehicles by 30% by 2016.  A total of 13 other states—Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—have adopted the tailpipe standards.  Several additional states are actively considering adopting the standards.

These 14-state standards will reduce global warming pollution by more than 450 million metric tons by 2020 – a reduction equivalent to eliminating all of the pollution from 84.7 million of today’s cars for a year, according to an Environment America analysis of data from the California Air Resources Board.  The 14-state standards will cut gasoline consumption by more than 50 billion gallons by 2020, saving Americans $93 billion at the pump. 

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox asked a federal appeals court on Friday to reject the California regulations.

"The auto industry is working hard to reform and retool. Allowing state-by-state fuel efficiency standards would be devastating to the auto industry," said Cox, a potential candidate for governor in 2010.

In Related News…

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday named Todd D. Stern to serve as a special envoy and head negotiator for climate change.

Stern was a top aide under President Bill Clinton and a senior negotiator at Kyoto and Buenos Aires climate negotiations.

Stern has been a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, focusing on climate change and environmental issues.

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