Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reactions To President's Directives On Energy & Climate Change

Jan 27: There was significant reaction from many sectors to President Obama's direction to U.S. EPA to review the previous denial of a waiver request by California to set its own standards for the regulation of vehicle emissions and his directive for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for carmakers' 2011 model year. [See WIMS 1/26/09]. In his speech, announcing the directives, the President also delivered his strongest statements to date on climate change and global warming. He said, ". . . the long-term threat of climate change, which, if left unchecked, could result in violent conflict, terrible storms, shrinking coastlines, and irreversible catastrophe. . ."

On the California waiver it is important to emphasize precisely what the President said as there has been considerable misleading reports and statements on his statement. The President said, "California has shown bold and bipartisan leadership through its effort to forge 21st-century standards, and over a dozen states have followed its lead. But instead of serving as a partner, Washington stood in their way. This refusal to lead risks the creation of a confusing and patchwork set of standards that hurts the environment and the auto industry. . . And that's why I'm directing the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately review the denial of the California waiver request and determine the best way forward. This will help us create incentives to develop new energy that will make us less dependent on the oil that endangers our security, our economy and our planet." [emphasis added]. It appears the President is proposing a national standard and would like to discourage individual states from adopting the California standard.

There has also been confusing reporting on the number of other states interested in adopting the California standard. The State of California reports that thirteen other states, as of January 21, 2009, have adopted California's standards including: Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. In various reports and statements, it has also been implied that there would be many different regulations in the various states if the California waiver were granted. It should also be emphasized that if the California waiver were approved and other states were to adopt the California standard as permitted under the Clean Air Act, there would only be two different standards -- not 16-18 different standards in various states.

The following is a sampling of various reactions from different sectors to the President's announcements. Access the complete statements by clicking on the active links.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) - "This morning, President Obama signaled that our country can no longer afford to wait to combat the climate crisis and our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. He is setting our country on a path led by science and innovation, in a dramatic departure from the past eight years. Granting the request of California and other states to move forward with reducing greenhouse gases emissions from vehicles will steer American automakers to retool their fleets. Only through innovation will automakers be able to create the greener cars of the future and regain their global competitiveness. President Obama has also sent a clear message on CAFE standards. Restarting the implementation of new fuel efficiency standards will allow the Obama Administration to bring fresh thinking to the process and ensure the standards achieve the goals set by Congress in the landmark 2007 energy bill."

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) - “The President’s action today is disappointing. The effect of this policy will be to destroy American jobs at the very time government leaders should be working together to protect and create them. Millions of American jobs will be placed in further jeopardy if automakers are forced to spend billions to comply with potentially dozens of different emissions standards in dozens of different states. . . Reversing the decision could open the door to states setting their own standards, forcing struggling American automakers -- which recently received billions in taxpayer funds -- to comply with potentially dozens of different and costly standards across the country."

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) - "I have long said that granting California the waiver so that California and 18 other states can address tailpipe emissions from cars is the best first step the President can take to combat global warming and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It is so refreshing to see that the President understands that science must lead the way. We know that the scientists and professionals at EPA have made it clear that science and the law demand that the waiver be granted. As Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I will be working with the new EPA Administrator to ensure that the California waiver moves forward as quickly as possible. The President's comments about the importance of American leadership on clean energy and global warming were also music to my ears."

U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) - It’s unfortunate that the administration believes a patchwork of state regulations is better than a single national fuel economy standard. This is a crippling mandate for the ailing auto industry. Why attempt to bail out the auto industry on one hand and on the other mandate regulations that will further raise costs and result in more job losses in the industry? The potential granting of this waiver could authorize an untested, state-by-state regulatory program that could undermine the national CAFE standard, thus creating a patchwork of regulatory compliance obligations that would provide marginal, if any, benefit from a greenhouse gas reduction standpoint, but would tremendously increase costs and burdens on interstate commerce and on the automobile industry. It is a political exercise that attempts to address a global issue with a statewide solution that undermines a carefully crafted and newly revised national fuel economy standard.”

Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) - This is an energy triple play that will cut global warming pollution, increase innovation, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It shows what a visionary president is capable of doing, and the faith he has in the economic revival that America's automotive and energy industries can produce. . . President Obama is right to reconsider the way these fuel economy standards are implemented, and will undoubtedly use sound science and realistic analysis to achieve the strongest results that benefit consumers. Granting the waiver to California, Massachusetts and other states to go forward with reducing global warming emissions from vehicle tailpipes is what even the Bush Administration’s own experts concluded must be done, and I’m delighted that the era of politics trumping science and the law is over.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger - "With this announcement from President Obama less than a week into his administration, it is clear that California and the environment now have a strong ally in the White House. Allowing California and other states to aggressively reduce their own harmful vehicle tailpipe emissions would be a historic win for clean air and for millions of Americans who want more fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly cars. My administration has been fighting for this waiver since 2005 and we will not give up until it is granted because we owe it to our children and to our grandchildren to do more than just protect our natural resources, we must also work to improve them so that we leave behind an environment for future generations that is better than it is today.” [See also a California chronology on the waiver issue]

National Association of Clean Air Agencies - "Federal legislation must not preempt state or local governments from taking additional and more stringent actions to reduce GHG emissions. . . EPA should propose and promulgate a finding that GHG emissions endanger public health and welfare and use the authorities under the Clean Air Act to regulate GHG emissions. . . The Bush Administration’s denial of California's waiver request left California and over a dozen states with limited means to reduce motor vehicles' contributions to climate change. The Administration should immediately overturn the decision denying California's waiver application. . ." [Excerpted from a comprehensive set of recommendations for the Obama Administration, dated 12/16/08]

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers - "The Alliance supports a nationwide program that bridges state and federal concerns and moves all stakeholders forward, and we are ready to work with the Administration on developing a national approach. Since CA sought federal permission to set its own fuel economy/CO2 standards, there have been many developments. The U.S. Supreme Court directed EPA to reconsider greenhouse gas regulations for autos, the Congress passed stringent new fuel economy standards requiring CO2 reductions of at least 30%, automakers are offering more than 25 models of hybrids for sale in 2009, President Obama and a Democratic Senate and House are considering a comprehensive, economy-wide approach to CO2 reductions, and the credit crunch is producing the toughest marketplace since World War II. Today in the U.S. there are three voices on fuel economy/CO2 -- NHTSA, EPA and CA -- and each has different standards, different structures and different timelines. Automakers seek a federal-state solution that provides us with compliance clarity and one national standard. The Alliance also urges the Obama Administration to issue fuel economy standards for MY2011, because automakers are working on their product plans now and need the certainty of final standards."

U.S. Chamber of Commerce - “At a time when we need to jump start our economy, regulating CO2 in this manner would stop most of President Obama’s stimulus proposal cold in its tracks and create a regulatory train wreck. California should not set national standards for environmental regulation. The President already has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Allowing the California waiver would create a patchwork of regulations, be inefficient, and not achieve the desired outcome. As Congress tries to bail out the auto industry, California wants to punch more holes in the bottom of the boat. In addition, such a move would put the EPA one step closer to making carbon dioxide ‘subject to regulation’ under the Act."

National Association of Manufacturers - "The NAM understands the fundamental importance of protecting the environment. Our member companies are committed to greater environmental sustainability, including energy efficiency and conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with global climate change. We know we cannot solve the climate change issue alone. . . A separate waiver for California would lead to a patchwork of greenhouse gas reduction laws when climate change is a global issue and should be addressed on a national level."

American Petroleum Institute - API supports President Obama’s desire to fortify the nation’s energy security with a comprehensive energy policy. The oil and natural gas industry, which supports 6 million workers, stands ready to advance those national goals and we urge policymakers to proceed with plans to extend new leases on non-park federal lands and waters to develop energy resources that belong to the American people. However, the President’s directive to the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its denial of California’s request for a waiver that stopped California and 13 other states from implementing their own limits on auto emissions is not the way to go on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Creating a patchwork regulatory structure across multiple states would most likely impose higher costs on consumers, slow economic growth and kill U.S. jobs.

Earthjustice - "President Obama's directive is a much welcome move toward an energy efficient economy, with cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. We're very pleased the President took this immediate step toward allowing California and other states to set stronger standards. We're on our way to producing more jobs and a cleaner environment, during a time where restoring both the economy and the environment are crucial to this country."

Natural Resources Defense Council - “What a thrilling moment to have our new president put his vision into action for a cleaner and safer environment. President Obama’s announcement is a big step in fulfilling his campaign promises for a clean energy economy that will move America beyond oil, create new jobs and reduce global warming pollution. This is a strong signal to the world that America is ready to quickly step forward as a leader in the fight against global warming.”

Environmental Defense Fund - President Barack Obama signed two executive orders that could be remembered as the critical turning point toward achieving real energy independence and stopping global warming. . . The President's powerful statement affirming his commitment to moving aggressively to cut global warming emissions and unleash America's clean energy future laid out clear goals for action in the coming weeks and months.

National Wildlife Federation - "Today’s decision provides the kind of sound direction the auto industry needs to once again lead and build the kind of cars not only America needs, but the world needs. Our energy policies will no longer be based on denial and delay but instead on sound science that tells us we don’t have to choose among efficient vehicles, jobs and a healthy environment. With these new standards and President Obama’s proposed new green investments, we can advance cutting-edge technology that will restore America’s place as a world leader in the auto industry, save consumers money, and reduce our global warming pollution. President Obama has sent a clear message that America is leaving behind our failed fossil fuel policies that leave consumers at the mercy of wild swings in prices at the pump."

Union of Concerned Scientists - "This is a clean break from the previous administration's do-nothing approaches on global warming and U.S. oil dependence. Reconsidering the waiver denial is a clear indication that the new administration is ready to lead on energy and global warming. With this announcement, President Obama is beginning to make good on his campaign pledge to restore science to its rightful place in federal policymaking. I'm confident the administration will heed the advice of EPA staff scientists, grant the waiver, and take necessary steps to implement nationwide greenhouse gas standards for vehicles. If EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson follows through with her promise to keep the process transparent, we'll know the role science played in this decision."

GreenpeaceUSA - “For eight years, President Bush blocked the country’s progress on global warming solutions. At long last, the era of obstruction and denial is over. . . Detroit itself has indicated that this action is not only possible but also good for business. In its ‘modernization plans’ submitted to Congress as part of its request for a taxpayer bailout last fall, General Motors pledged fuel efficiency improvements that would allow the company to meet a national clean cars standard consistent with California’s, according to an analysis by Natural Resources Defense Council."

United Nations Environment Programme - "Just days after taking office, US President Barack Obama has appointed a climate envoy and cleared the way for new rules to force automakers to produce cleaner cars. The President signed papers aimed to prod the struggling US auto industry to design new fuel-efficient vehicles. His Administration is also considering whether to allow California to regulate car emissions, which are blamed for contributing to global warming. The move could prompt 18 states to put in place tougher emission limits than federal standards over coming months."

Access the complete statements above by clicking on the active links. Access the "The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" Presidential Memo (click here). Access the "State of California Request for Waiver" Presidential Memo (click here). Access various WIMS-eNewsUSA blog posts on the California waiver issue (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]