California Law Is Paving the Way for Clean Car Solutions, Says NRDC
SAN FRANCISCO (June 14, 2004) - As the California Air Resources Board (CARB) today formally released its draft plan to reduce global warming pollution from car tailpipes, at least one auto manufacturer has said that it could meet the new requirements. The statement by a spokesperson for the Honda Motor Co. demonstrates that automakers have the technological know-how to build cleaner, better cars, according to NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).
CARB's staff recommendation marks the country's first proposed regulation to reduce global warming pollution from passenger vehicles. It calls for tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants to be reduced by nearly 30 percent by 2014. (The staff recommendation is available at www.arb.ca.gov/cc/cc.htm.) CARB is scheduled to adopt final standards at a hearing in September. A 2002 bill (AB 1493, Pavley) requires it to adopt standards by the end of this year.
Automakers fought fiercely to prevent the global warming bill from being enacted, saying they couldn't build cleaner cars. But in an article published June 12 by the Japanese Kyodo News Service, a spokesman for Honda Motor Co. said, "If the legislation is of a fair nature and the state legislature gives us an appropriate span of time, we would be able to meet the new requirements. "Although the spokesperson was commenting before the regulation had been officially released, details of the rule had been widely reported.
"This shows what we've been saying all along is true," said Roland Hwang a policy analyst and vehicle technology expert with NRDC. "Auto manufacturers know how to build cars that emit less global warming pollution. The technology exists today. If Honda can do it, so can the Big Three. The only question is when will Detroit put its engineers to work and send its lawyers and lobbyists back home."
California's new pollution standards could have a ripple effect throughout the country. California is the only state authorized under the federal Clean Air Act to set its own pollution standards. It has been doing so for more than 40 years. Other states must comply with federal standards unless they choose to adopt California standards, which are usually stricter. In practice, many states, particularly in the Northeast, have chosen California's pollution standards to clean up their air.
"Once again, California is paving the way for cleaner, better cars," said Hwang. "The proposed new global warming standard is part of a long tradition of finding innovative solutions to air pollution problems."
CARB and industry analyses show there are many off-the-shelf technologies to make less-polluting vehicles, including SUVs and pickups. Many of these technologies -- such as variable valve timing and lift, cylinder deactivation, and continuously variable transmission -- already are entering the nation's auto fleet and offer the additional benefit of saving consumers money at the gas pump.
California Gov. Schwarzenegger has pledged to implement and defend the standards against potential court challenges.