February 6, 2009

Obama EPA Begins Review of Emissions Limits

Washington, D.C. – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today it would formally begin revisiting the Bush Administration’s decision to deny a request by California, Rhode Island and other states to set restrictions on tailpipe pollution from vehicles sold within their borders.

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who cosponsored a measure that would have approved the states’ request legislatively, commended the move.

“Rhode Island is one step closer to tougher limits on greenhouse gas emissions,” Whitehouse said. “Where the Bush Administration delayed, denied, and dissembled, the Obama Administration is acting – and that will mean cleaner air, more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, and a more energy-independent future for our country.”

In 2005, California adopted standards for passenger cars, pick-up trucks, minivans and SUVs that require a gradual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions beginning in model year 2009. Since 2005, 14 other states have adopted the California standard, including Rhode Island, and four others are moving towards adoption. Taken together, these 19 states represent over half the population of the U.S. and over 30 percent of the national vehicle market.

According to an analysis by Environment Rhode Island, if every state that has adopted the California standard is allowed to implement the stronger vehicle emissions regulations, cumulative global warming emission reductions could reach as high as 392 million metric tons by 2020 – the equivalent to taking 74 million of today’s cars off the road for an entire year. But the Bush Administration denied California’s request for a waiver of the Clean Air Act that would allow it and the other states to adopt the tougher standard.

On January 26, President Obama instructed the EPA to revisit the Bush Administration’s decision. Today, EPA announced that the public would have 60 days to submit comments on the waiver request, and that there will be a public hearing in Washington, D.C. in March.


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