Bill Curtailing States Right to Reduce Auto Emissions Opposed

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has joined with seven other governors to oppose the proposed legislation in Congress that would curtail the states' ability to protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty vehicles.

Altogether, the governors issued a joint letter to Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., the chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, who penned the bill that would specifically restrict the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from granting states waivers to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.

In addition to Governor Rendell, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oregon Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Washington Governor Christine O. Gregoire, Massachusetts Governor Devel Patrick, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer signed the letter to Rep. Boucher.

"When the federal government fails to protect the environment and the health of our citizens, as it has done when it comes to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, then the states must be allowed to act," Rendell said. "Pennsylvania has already taken steps to reduce pollution, increase homegrown energy sources, reduce our dependence on foreign energy and create jobs for our hardworking men and women. The next step is to reduce the greenhouse gases coming from motor vehicles that contribute to global warming."

Pennsylvania is among eleven other states leading the effort to combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly carbon dioxide. The states strive to slash GHG emissions from vehicles by up to 30 percent starting with the 2009 model year. The reductions would be achieved as California implements its GHG limitations for passenger vehicles and light duty trucks. Nonetheless, this can only happen if the EPA grants California a waiver of federal preemption from the federal Clean Air Act.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty testified before the EPA in May in support of the waiver to California. She noted that California has met all the legal obligations prescribed by the Clean Air Act, so the EPA is obligated to grant the waiver.

Pennsylvania has adopted the more dogmatic California emission standards but it cannot implement those reductions unless the Golden State is permitted to do so. About 25 percent of the GHG in Pennsylvania are attributable to transportation. Also, by implementing the California program rather than federal mandates, Pennsylvania will slash smog-producing pollutants by more than 6,000 tons by when full fleet turnover is expected; and reduce six toxic pollutants from five to eleven percent.

California has been urging the federal agency to grant the waiver for about two years now to limit GHG emissions from vehicles. Other states that are set to enforce the GHG emission reductions in the 2009 model year, along with California and Pennsylvania, are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The emission reduction mandate is expected to affect auto parts like the Mitsubishi , engines, and more. This is why automakers are also expressing their dissent to the expected regulations.

"State leaders around the country are heeding the warning of scientists from around the world that the time for action is now to reduce climate change, which threatens the economies of all nations and the well being of all people in the world," Rendell said.

Rendell has established his state as a national leader in the clean energy field by doubling its purchase of electricity produced from renewable fuels to 20 percent. Also, he sets up an energy portfolio mandate requiring that 18 percent of all electricity produced in the state come from clean and renewable sources by the year 2020.

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