Tuesday, August 23, 2005

States Take Steps to Lower Emissions

Taking a small step in the reduction of dangerous greenhouse gasses, the Pacific Northwest states of Washington and Oregon have announced that they will adopt California's stringent new vehicle emission standards.

California's regulations will be phased in starting in 2009 and when all of the regulations take full effect in 2016, the entire Pacific Coast from Canada to Mexico will have the strictest standards in the nation. The move gives the auto industry a decade to comply.

Yet, not surprisingly, auto industry lobbyists fought to kill the legislation in Washington and Oregon, and the industry is suing California over its new standards, saying the state lacks authority to implement such regulations.

However, under the federal Clean Air Act, California can set pollution standards for cars and trucks that are stricter than federal standards. Other states can choose either California's standards or the looser federal rules.

At least six Northeast states -- New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine -- are also moving to adopt California's new standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and will likely finalize rules by the end of this year.

A seventh state, Rhode Island, is considering whether to adopt the new California standards. Other states, such as Pennsylvania, Illinois and North Carolina, also are also contemplating a move to the new California standards.

The West Coast and Northeast states comprise about one third of the U.S. car market, so the adoption of the new rules will put significant pressure on auto makers to produce cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles.

The stiffer requirements would mean new cars sold in those states would have to emit 30 percent less carbon dioxide, 20 percent fewer toxic pollutants and up to 20 percent fewer smog-causing pollutants than the established federal standards.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said, "If the federal government doesn't want to move forward on global warming, then the states are going to have to do it."

Though President Bush has ignorantly stated that there's still not enough science on the matter, a consortium of 300 of the world's leading scientists are in agreement that emission of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are a leading cause of global warming.

The President knows the facts, he just won't accept them because they don't fit his ideology. After all, he dismissed his own government's 2002 report on the human contributions to global warming. When asked about the EPA report at the time, Bush said dismissively, "I read the report put out by the bureaucracy."

It was revealed that a former White House aide, a former petroleum industry lobbyist who has since returned to the industry, repeatedly censored and softened references to global warming in reports by the president's Council on Environmental Quality.

But denial doesn't change the facts. In the Arctic, which includes Alaska, polar ice is retreating, glaciers are receding, and the permafrost is melting.

A group of four senators -- Hillary Clinton (D), John McCain (R), Susan Collins (R) and Lindsay Graham (R) -- flew over Alaska last week and were shocked by what they saw. McCain called what he saw "a little scary", Clinton said "We saw devastation as far as the eye can see," and Collins warned that the Arctic "is crying out to us to pay attention to the impact."

These stricter emissions standards are a good start and we can only hope that all states will soon follow suit. The auto industry cries wolf every time regulations are imposed to reduce emissions and/or to improve fuel economy, such as with the introduction of catalytic converters and unleaded gasoline.

But like the boy who cried wolf, no one believes them anymore. We all know where their interests lie, and that's solely with their bottom line. Profits trump all else - our environment, and even the air we all breathe.

Copyright © 2005 The Independent Report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.

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