The following statement is from Environment Virginia. See in particular Sen. Donald McEachin’s statement (after the “flip”) that he is “frustrated and dismayed” by Ken Cuccinelli’s “ludicrous lawsuits that waste time and money.” That includes, apparently, yet another lawsuit, this time against higher fuel economy standards for automobiles. As Sen. McEachin points out, Cuccinelli is focusing on these time-and-money-wasting lawsuits, “[r]ather than protect Virginians from internet predators, consumer fraud and identity theft.”
White House Shows Leadership on Clean Cars
Congress Urged to Protect New Standards by Rejecting Efforts to Weaken Clean Air Act
Richmond – In a huge win for Virginia’s environment, public health and national security, the Obama administration today announced new standards for automobile fuel economy and global warming emissions. An Environment Virginia analysis found that these new federal standards – based on the “clean cars program” developed by California and adopted by 13 other states – will save Virginians 324 million gallons of gasoline by 2016 as compared to the previous federal standards, while reducing emissions of global warming pollutants and providing a net economic savings to consumers.
“Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, the cars of tomorrow will be cleaner and cost less to fuel than the cars of today,” said Environment Virginia Advocate J.R. Tolbert. “Today’s announcement is the direction that America should be taking when addressing our energy needs. Rather than drilling off our coastlines we should prioritize conservation and renewable energy when meeting the nation’s energy needs.”
The rest of the statement is after the “flip”
In addition to the significant expected gasoline savings, the new standards will also mean a reduction in global warming pollution in Virginia equivalent to eliminating the pollution from 598,000 of today’s cars for a year, as compared with the previous federal standards.
Environment Virginia was joined by State Senator Donald McEachin in applauding today’s announcement. In response to the news that AG Cuccinelli is considering filing yet another lawsuit, Senator McEachin said, “I continue to be frustrated and dismayed by the Attorney General’s actions. Rather than protect Virginians from internet predators, consumer fraud and identity theft, he insists on filing ludicrous lawsuits that waste time and money. Moreover, these EPA regulations will save Virginians almost $100 million dollars by reducing vehicular gas use. This does not even speak of the improvements to our quality of life by reducing pollution which will improve our air and make it easier to breathe for the many Virginians, particularly our children and our seniors, with asthma, lung disease or other breathing issues.”
While Virginia has failed to enact clean car standards, the push for cleaner cars has been happening for decades. In the late 1960s, state officials in California responded to horrific air pollution in cities like Los Angeles by adopting the first-ever tailpipe emission standards for cars. This paved the way for federal adoption of vehicle standards in the Clean Air Act, though the Act allowed California to continue setting its own, tougher emission standards for cars, and enabled other states to adopt these standards.
In 2002, California enacted legislation designed to reduce global warming pollution from automobiles. This resulted in rules to reduce global warming pollution from new cars and light trucks by 30 percent by 2016 compared with 2002 levels – a step that would result in improved vehicle fuel economy.
Frustrated with federal inaction to address automobile emissions and fuel economy, 13 states – Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – soon moved to adopt the program.
Automakers and auto dealers, who opposed the program at the state level, challenged the program in court, while the Bush administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delayed a decision on whether to grant the waiver needed under the Clean Air Act for California and other states to implement the standards. Following the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA that the agency possessed the authority to regulate global warming pollution, and two years after California’s initial request, the Bush administration EPA finally denied the waiver in December 2007.
As one of his first acts in office, President Obama instructed the EPA to reconsider California’s waiver request, which later resulted in EPA granting the waiver. In May, the Obama administration announced an agreement with the automakers and the state of California that enabled the creation of a single, national fuel economy/global warming emissions program for cars based on the California standards. The just-announced standards are the result of that effort.
The new standards are expected to reduce gasoline consumption by as much as 11.6 billion gallons per year in 2016 nationally-nearly as much as is consumed by all the vehicles in Texas in a year-and save consumers up to $31.8 billion annually at the pump in 2016. The new standard will also reduce global warming pollution from vehicles by 108 million metric tons per year in 2016, or as much global warming pollution as is produced by 28 500-MW coal-fired power plants.
Despite the agreement between the Obama administration, automakers and California – and the fact that 80 percent of the public approves of stronger fuel economy standards for vehicles – the clean cars program still faces attacks. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s Dirty Air Act (S.J.Res. 26), for example, would effectively veto EPA’s scientific finding that global warming pollutants threaten human health and the environment – thereby blocking the standards. The companion resolution in the House – introduced by three separate sets of members, including the Republican leadership (H.J.Res. 77), Democrats Ike Skelton (MO) and Collin Peterson (MN; H.J.R. 76), and Republicans Jerry Moran (KS) and Marsha Blackburn (TN; H.J.Res. 66) – and three additional House bills (H.R. 391, H.R. 4396, H.R. 4572) also would block the clean cars program and otherwise undermine the Clean Air Act.
“Weakening the Clean Air Act would be one of the worst moves Congress could make for Virginia’s environment,” said Tolbert. “We urge Virginia’s U.S. Representatives and Senators to let the country reap the benefits of these clean car standards by opposing any and all efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act.”