Obama Administration Finalizes Move To Limit Climate Change Caused by Autos

Standards will make cars cleaner, cut dependence on foreign oil


Liz Judge, Earthjustice (202) 667-4500, ext. 237 

Today marked the concluding step in the Obama administration’s historic process of setting new fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and some trucks.

The final rule on these tailpipe emissions standards, released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in tandem with the Department of Transportation’s rule on corporate average fuel economy standards, will make cars and trucks cleaner, greener, and less costly to fill at the pump. The standards are expected to cut global warming pollution from these vehicles by 21 percent and produce net benefits of $190 billion.

It is the last step in a process initiated by President Obama in May 2009, when he announced that, in response to the country’s critical need to address global climate change and to reduce oil consumption, his administration would set new requirements for light-duty vehicles that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy. This process required a series of intense negotiations and discussions with automakers and ultimately ended with their signoff and endorsement.

In its 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision, the Supreme Court held that EPA had to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act if they are found to endanger public health. In December 2009, based on an extensive compendium of research by the U.S. government’s leading scientific agencies and advisors, the EPA found that greenhouse gases cause climate change and are endangering public health and welfare in the United States. The EPA had been already previously regulating automotive emissions for other harmful pollutants.

Earthjustice played a major role in the litigation that produced the Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v. EPA decision and that ultimately led to today’s action.

The following statement is from Earthjustice senior legislative representative Sarah Saylor:

“We are glad to see the EPA moving forward with regulating greenhouse gases as a major cause for climate change and a threat to the public health and welfare of our country. The transportation sector accounts for one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and is the fastest-growing major source of global warming pollution. If we have any chance of fighting climate change, we have to reduce the contribution vehicles make to the problem. We commend the Obama administration and the EPA for addressing this head-on in today’s auto emissions standards.

“But we must not stop there. We urge the EPA to move forward and begin regulating global warming pollution from sources other than vehicles, such as our nation’s biggest and dirtiest factory and power plant polluters. And as our Senators consider critical climate change and energy legislation, we strongly urge them to craft a bill that holds polluters accountable.”

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