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Groups: Auto Industry Should Be Required to Drop Vehicle Emissions Litigation Against States in Exchange for Any Additional Bailout

November 11, 2008

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — If Washington is going to give yet another loan-guarantee bailout to Detroit automakers, the price tag for doing so should include requiring the car manufacturers to end their four-year-long legal assault against global warming laws in California and three other states (Vermont, Rhode Island and New Mexico), according to 40MPG.org and TheCLEAN.org, which are projects of the Civil Society Institute.

The groups also called on Congress and the Bush Administration to narrowly target any additional loan guarantees for U.S. car makers to the development and delivery of hybrids, clean diesels and other highly fuel-efficient vehicles. Concerned Americans are being urged to go to http://www.40mpg.org/bailout to send an email urging that the bailout restrictions be supported by their members of Congress and the transition team of President-Elect Barack Obama.

40MPG.org Founder and Civil Society Institute President and Founder Pam Solo said: “Just because Detroit is pleading once again for another bailout is no reason for Washington to give these companies a ‘free ride.’ If taxpayers are going to be put at risk by guaranteeing new loans, then any such new help should be conditioned on the U.S. car companies ending their campaign to frustrate state-level efforts to clean up car and light-truck emissions that cause global warming. Further, Congress should insist that every penny of the $25 billion in new loan guarantees that Detroit is seeking be targeted to building the cars of tomorrow, not the gas-guzzling dinosaurs of yesterday. Business as usual for Detroit is a bad investment without the incentives for Detroit to do what it seems it cannot do for itself.”

Solo said that the moves recommended by 40 MPG.org and TheCLEAN.org make sense because they are in synch with the announced plans of the incoming administration of President-Elect Obama.

A year ago, Obama criticized the U.S. auto industry failing to deliver more fuel-efficient cars sooner. At that time, Obama said: “The need to drastically change our energy policy is no longer a debatable proposition. It’s not a question of whether, but how; not a question of if, but when. For the sake of our security, our economy, our jobs and our planet, the age of oil must end in our time.”

Since the election, published accounts have indicated that President-elect Obama plans to move swiftly to overturn a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denial of a waiver being sought by California that would allow the state to move ahead with its tougher vehicle emission standards.

A total of 15 states have adopted regulations requiring automobile manufacturers to reduce significantly the greenhouse gas emissions of their cars and lights trucks. Under the uniform set of regulations adopted by these states, automobile manufacturers must reduce new vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by thirty percent over 2002 levels. The reductions are phased in over model years 2009 through 2016.

The regulations now under legal assault are all authorized by the “Pavley law,” a California state law enacted in 2002. The Pavley law authorizes the California Air Resources Board to regulate greenhouse gases from passenger vehicles. Under the federal Clean Air Act, California is entitled to set more stringent pollution regulations on motor vehicles than the federal Environmental Protection Agency so long as California receives a waiver from EPA. The federal law also allows any other state to adopt California’s more stringent motor vehicle regulations. This regime ensures that there can only be two kinds of cars: federal cars and California cars, thus easing the burden on manufacturers.

The U.S. automobile industry has been waging a four-year legal battle against state emission standards. They prevailed upon the Bush EPA to deny California a Clean Air Act waiver in a decision that was contradicted by the analysis of EPA’s own staff. This denial will be reversed one way or another: California has sued EPA to obtain the waiver and, like other states, is faring well in court. President-Elect Obama also has promised to reverse the EPA waiver denial.

California has adopted regulations under the Pavley law requiring significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions from new cars. A total of 14 other states have now adopted a set of identical rules for their states. It is estimated that 45 percent of the U.S. population lives in these 15 states. In 2016, when the regulations are fully phased in, the state regulations will avoid over 22 million metric tons of greenhouse gases per year. A next phase of regulations is already in the works that will increase this savings to more than 36 million metric tons per year by 2020. These greenhouse gas emissions reductions are over and above the incidental greenhouse gas benefits expected from fuel economy law enacted last year requiring 35 mpg by 2020.

Ailis Aaron Wolf, spokesperson for 40MPG.org, said: “This is a situation where what is good for the environment is also good for the pocketbooks of consumers. It has been estimated that the Pavley regulations will save consumers $3000 in fuel costs over the life of a vehicle even assuming an unrealistically low gasoline cost of $1.74 per gallon. This will more than make up for the $1000 per vehicle in extra manufacturing costs. For economically stressed consumers, that is good news.”

ABOUT THE GROUPS

Founded in 2006, 40MPG.org (http://www.40mpg.org/) is a project of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (http://www.civilsocietyinstitute.org/). The nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (http://www.civilsocietyinstitute.org/) is a think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business that can help to improve society. Since 2003, CSI has conducted more than 20 major surveys and reports on energy and auto issues, including vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, consumer demand for hybrids/other highly-fuel efficient vehicles, global warming and renewable energy. In addition creating 40MPG.org and the Hybrid Owners of America (http://www.hybridownersofamerica.org/), CSI is a co-convener of TheCLEAN.org.

TheClean.org (http://www.theclean.org/) is a collaborative movement of state and local organizations and individuals who will encourage and support policy makers at all levels of government to implement new energy policies. The Civil Society Institute worked with grassroots organizations across the United States to help organize the TheClean.org campaign.

40MPG.org, Washington, D.C.; Civil Society Institute, Washington,

CONTACT: Ailis Aaron Wolf, +1-703-276-3265, aaaron@hastingsgroup.com,for 40MPG.org, Civil Society Institute, and TheClean.org

Web Site: http://theclean.org/




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