Senators Feinstein and Boxer to Oppose Efforts to Preempt California’s Landmark Tailpipe Emissions Standard
Jun 07 2007
Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.) today announced that they will oppose any proposal to increase federal fuel economy standards at the expense of preempting California’s landmark tailpipe emissions standard, which was enacted in 2002.
“Various legislative proposals to reform the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for automobiles propose to preempt California’s landmark 2002 law controlling greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks,” Senators Feinstein and Boxer wrote in a letter today to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “Stripping the state of its authority to continue its leadership role on this issue would lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, more oil imports, and higher gas prices for consumers. Such Federal action would be a step backward for our nation, and we would oppose it with all means at our disposal within the United States Senate.”
The Senate is expected to begin debate next week on a comprehensive energy package to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One part of the package will include a measure to increase corporate average fuel economy standards (CAFE) for all cars, trucks and SUVs by 10 miles per gallon over 10 years, and an additional 4 percent increase beyond that. The legislation, sponsored by Senators Feinstein, Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Boxer and a bipartisan coalition of Senators, was approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in early May.
The following is the text of the letter sent to Majority Leader Reid by Senators Feinstein and Boxer:
June 6, 2007
Senator Harry Reid
528 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Reid:
Various legislative proposals to reform the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for automobiles propose to preempt California’s landmark 2002 law controlling greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. We are writing to express our strong opposition to any attempt to prevent California from controlling climate change inducing pollution as the Senate considers a comprehensive energy package next week. California has led our nation in addressing the threat of global warming. Stripping the state of its authority to continue its leadership role on this issue would lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, more oil imports, and higher gas prices for consumers. Such Federal action would be a step backward for our nation, and we would oppose it with all means at our disposal within the United States Senate.
The U.S. transportation sector accounts for a substantial percentage – 28 percent in 2004 – of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. In California, the transportation sector generates almost 41 percent of the state's annual greenhouse emissions. To address this threat, California enacted the first state law (AB 1493) requiring greenhouse gas limits from motor vehicles. As directed by the statute, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued regulations in September 2004 limiting fleet average greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles. The fleet average caps apply first to model year 2009 vehicles. The caps become more stringent annually, so that by 2016, greenhouse gas emissions would be 30 percent below the 2009 level.
The Clean Air Act designates California as the only state permitted to develop motor vehicle pollution standards that are as stringent as or more stringent than federal requirements, as long as the state receives a waiver from EPA. The law permits other states to choose between federal standards or California's more stringent provisions. At least 12 states have formally adopted the California vehicular greenhouse gas regulation. In order for the states to implement this standard, California requested a waiver (as required by Section 209 of the Clean Air Act) in December 2005. Although the EPA has approved every California waiver request since 1975, the EPA has yet to respond. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Massachusetts v. EPA affirmed that the Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, paving the way for EPA approval of a waiver.
The State of California has moved forward a comprehensive, bi-partisan, and economically sound plan to control greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, and other states have seen the wisdom of this plan and followed California’s lead. We believe that Congress should respect the great strides California has made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and we will work with our colleagues to ensure that California’s longstanding authority in this area is preserved.
Dianne Feinstein Barbara Boxer
United States Senator United States Senator