Tuesday, April 27, 2010

California’s Global Warming Leadership: A Win For Green Vehicles, Jobs and Oil Independence

By Bill Haller, Sierra Club California Activist

On April 1st the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with the California Air Resources Board will release the first-ever national greenhouse gas standards for passenger vehicles. If you’re still waking up to the first few sips of your morning coffee, you may want to read that first sentence over again.

It boggles the mind. To cut greenhouse gases, create real jobs, reduce our oil dependency and in the process, better secure our nation, the Obama administration, U.S. EPA, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration and Cal EPA through CARB put their heads together to come up with new standards for auto emissions for 2016 and beyond.

Me, I’m flabbergasted because for the last two decades the needle has barely moved on national fuel efficiency standards. Now it’s going to be set at 35 mpg. Somebody pinch me.

As a 52 year-old dad of two young kids (Little League for him, ballet and tap for her), a consumer (18 mpg when we roll the family van in neutral down a hill) and a Sierra Club volunteer (one of 150,000 treehuggers in California), I want to have the option to purchase a greener vehicle like a plug in hybrid or a battery electric vehicle. But what I really want is a cleaner, greener and more prosperous future for my kids. I know it sounds weird for me to say, but thanks to my government, that future is now more a reality than ever before. Oh, c’mon, you knew Detroit and Big Oil were never going to do it on their own.

Getting rid of harmful greenhouse gases is not only good for our environment but it also guarantees that all Americans benefit from clean breathable air including our elderly, the infirm, you, me, the kids. We save money at the gas pump, reduce our dangerous dependence on oil, create new jobs and ensure California’s global leadership in advancing technology for greener vehicles. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, passenger vehicles are responsible for over 70 percent of greenhouse gas pollution in our state. With about 30 million cars tooling around California’s freeways every day, that is why these new federal standards for greener vehicles are so important.

Happy? Me too.

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