DEEP: Governor Rell Applauds EPA Approval Of California Auto Emissions Standards

June 30, 2009

Governor Rell Applauds EPA Approval of
California Auto Emissions Standards

Action Allows Stricter Standards for Vehicles Sold in Connecticut

Governor M. Jodi Rell today hailed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to approve California’s request for stricter greenhouse gas emission standards for motor vehicles, calling the decision an important step forward in efforts to address climate change that will mean the sale of cleaner, greener cars in Connecticut.

"This is a big day for the future of our planet and the ability of states like Connecticut and California to continue their leadership in addressing climate change," Governor Rell said. "After countless delays, much legal wrangling and seemingly endless waiting, states like ours are finally free to put these stringent new standards into effect. The result will be a sharp reduction in the amount of pollutants – by 2020, the equivalent of taking 74 million of today’s cars off the road for an entire year.

"A few simple statistics make the major impact of this decision clear: More than 35 percent of the cars in America are registered in the 14 states that plan to implement the new California emissions standards," the Governor said. "The new standards will reduce motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent. The cars we drive account for about one-third of all greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. By moving to these new emission standards we will put a real dent in the pace of climate change."

Under the federal Clean Air Act, California has the right to implement more stringent motor vehicle emissions standards than the federal limits, once it obtains an EPA waiver. Other states have the right to adopt the California standards in lieu of the federal standards. California requested a waiver on December 21, 2005, but the original request was rejected, a decision Governor Rell joined California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in criticizing in testimony before Congress. The Obama Administration ordered the EPA to reconsider the ruling, resulting in today’s decision.

In addition to California and Connecticut, other states pursuing the California program are Arizona, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation have signaled their intent to eventually set national standards as stringent as the California standards. The waiver approval protects the right of California and other states to pursue even stricter standards as the federal program is phased into place.

When the California standards are fully phased in, greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles sold in Connecticut and other participating states would be reduced by up to 30 percent. These reductions would be accomplished with "off-the-shelf" technology such as more efficient turbocharged engines and air conditioner systems. The California standards will limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars, light trucks and sport-utility vehicles by 392 million metric tons by the year 2020.

"Connecticut has long played a leadership role in addressing climate change and today’s EPA action allows us to continue pursuing that agenda," Governor Rell said. "In addition to enacting the new California emissions standards we are an active participant in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is reducing emissions from power plants. Together with other states in the Northeast, we are also looking at a low-carbon fuel standard that could lead to even greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles."