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E-M:/ President's Auto Emissions Decision Hailed

Monday, January 26, 2009

Contact:  David Holtz, National Communications Director, Clean Water Action
                Phone:  313.300.4454 x0
                E-mail:  dholtz@cleanwater.org

                Roger Smith, Energy Campaign Coordinator, Clean Water Action
                Phone:  860.232.6232
                Email:  rsmith@cleanwater.org


President's Auto Emissions Decision Hailed

Action Tackles Oil Dependence, Global Warming

Washington, DC- President Obama's announcement today that he is ordering the federal Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen emissions standards for autos puts us on a path toward reducing America's dependence on oil and is strong evidence the new administration is stepping up to the challenge of global warming.  

In his first major action as president on energy and global warming, Obama said the federal government should stop blocking  innovations by states and told the EPA to review its denial of granting California a waiver to regulate automobile tailpipe emissions linked to global warming.   The president also threw the administration's support behind stronger fuel economy standards.

Clean Water Action President John DeCock, who attended the president's announcement in the East Room of the White House, said in giving the California waiver another review, President Obama is signaling an end to political influence over decisions that should be made on the basis of environmental and public health data and to the executive branch selectively enforcing the law.

 "When the California waiver is approved, as it is almost certain to be, states will be free to apply the letter and the spirit of the Clean Air Act in the manner in which it was intended," said DeCock. "This action is a critical step in bringing an important system of environmental regulations back in balance and, as the president said, sparking innovation. Real change, positive change for the environment and public health will directly result from this decision.  We applaud the president for righting this wrong so early in his administration and are encouraged by what this means to common sense application of our environmental laws."

 The decision by the president reverses course from the Bush administration which blocked California's law and ignored scientific and technical data in support of tougher fuel standards.   Obama also ordered the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue guidelines so that autos meet average fuel efficiency of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 or sooner, an action Obama said would reduce America's dependence on foreign oil by 2 million barrels a day.

The two directives would set in motion federal rulemaking processes that will likely lower auto emissions industry wide.   California and 13 other states have passed laws to limit tailpipe emissions by 30 percent by 2016.   Four other states want to do the same. The Bush administration had opposed the move and delayed any action on increasing fuel economy.

The director of Clean Water Action's Michigan office, Cyndi Roper, said tougher fuel economy rules will put Detroit's Big 3 car companies on track to produce cleaner and more competitive vehicles. President Obama said the goal is to prepare automakers for the future and to "build the cars of tomorrow."

 "While all Americans have breathed dirtier air because of Detroit's short-sighted auto executives, here in Michigan we have seen the economic cost of producing cars that pollute, guzzle gas and can't compete," said Roper. "We believe if Detroit steps up and into the 21st Century with cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars our air, water and jobs will be safer."

Cars and light trucks in the United States consume more than nine million barrels of oil per day or 40 percent of all domestic oil consumption. Each gallon of gasoline burned releases up to 28 pounds of carbon dioxide gas that causes global warming.   Cars account for more than 20 percent of global warming pollution from the United States.

 The California Air Resources Board concluded that automakers could achieve a 30% reduction of global warming pollution by 2009 at a cost savings to both automakers and consumers.  

Clean Water Action: empowering people to protect America's waters, the health of our families, and to make democracy work. .