Less than a week into office President Obama is acting to show the country and the world that the U.S. is back as a leader in the fight to protect the climate by taking on global warming pollution. The Washington Post and the New York Times are reporting that on Monday the President will direct EPA to approve the right of California and at least 13 other states to set global warming pollution standards for new cars and direct the Department of Transportation to set higher national fuel efficiency standards.
With these actions our new President is not just stepping up to the threat of climate chaos. The cleaner cars he will help put on the road will show us the way to reduce our dangerous dependence on oil and will push automakers to make the cars that the world will want and need in the 21st Century.
We at NRDC are thrilled that the President is acting quickly to follow-up on his campaign promise to stop the pattern of global warming denial and delay that we have lived through in the past eight years. In 2002 California enacted the world's first law to cut global warming pollution from automobiles. The response of the automakers was to hire lawyers instead of turning their engineers loose to make cleaner cars. Court after court shot down the auto company lawyers' claims but the Bush Administration threw yet another roadblock in the path of the cleaner cars that California and at least 13 other states were trying to put in the hands of their citizens. Overruling the advice of career agency staff, the Bush Administration EPA for the first time since EPA was founded 38 years ago, denied the right of the states to set tougher vehicle pollution standards under the Clean Air Act.
By directing his EPA to reverse this unlawful obstructionism and approve the states' efforts, President Obama is preventing years of additional delay in getting these cleaner cars on the road. If the automakers would take their eyes off the rear view mirror in developing their business plans, they too would be applauding the President's action for it is the kick they need to turn out a better product-better for the planet, better for consumers, better for ailing auto companies, and better for the American economy.
I've been watching Presidents come and go in Washington since 1970 and this is the best and fastest environmental start of any Presidency I've seen. Bravo to the President and bravo to the American voter for bringing all of us this breath of fresh air!