Most Stakeholders Applaud Request for Vehicle Emissions Review

President Barack Obama directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to grant state waiver requests to strengthen tailpipe emissions standards, according to a Jan. 26 press release from the National Wildlife Federation.

The requests from California and 13 other states as well as the District of Columbia had been turned away by the Bush administration.

"With these new standards and President Obama’s proposed new green investments, we can advance cutting-edge technology that will restore America’s place as a world leader in the auto industry, save consumers money, and reduce our global warming pollution," said Larry Schweiger, president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation. He added that his organization will puts all its efforts behind supporting legislation that invests in the technologies and builds the infrastructure that will create new jobs and protect the environment.

Michael J. Stanton, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, Inc., said: "Today's announcement offers a unique opportunity for the automobile industry and AIAM members. We welcome the Obama Administration's quick attention to the important issue of climate change and recognize the need to take immediate steps to reduce, as feasibly as possible, greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.

"While we support this important goal, the auto industry is currently faced with the prospect of multiple state and federal regulations that while well-intentioned, place inconsistent and burdensome requirements on automobile manufacturers without achieving any greater environmental benefit. Currently the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Environmental Protection Agency, California and 19 other states are regulating greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards," Stanton said.

"At a time when the auto industry is suffering major financial challenges, this presents an opportunity for the Obama Administration to harmonize these regulatory programs in the interest of achieving a goal we all agree we must reach: a cleaner environment and a reduction of the country's reliance on carbon-based fuels. We encourage the DOT to issue CAFE regulations covering vehicle model years from 2011 through 2015 in view of the long product development lead times required in our industry. And we encourage the Administration to move as quickly as possible to resolve conflicting, confusing, costly and inefficient rules in order to help the auto industry advance quickly and cost-effectively to the next generation of green vehicles. The common goal of all stakeholders is to establish a coordinated approach resulting in the maximum feasible reduction of GHG emissions from motor vehicles."

Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist, Maine Gov. John E. Baldacci, N.Y. Gov. David A. Paterson, and Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas issued statements in support of the action. All of their states seek adoption of the California standards.

Baldacci said “We now have a partner in Washington, D.C., who understands the need to promote clean, renewable energy. I am pleased that President Obama today outlined a clear vision for our national energy future and will support flexibility for states in regards to environmental policy.”

Douglas noted that until EPA grants a waiver, California’s greenhouse gas emission standards are not enforceable by Vermont and the other states that have adopted them.Almost 45 percent of Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation.