ANGELES - July 22 - California Governor Gray Davis today signs a pioneering measure
to protect California's health and environment by reducing global warming pollution
from all new cars and trucks sold in the state, America's largest automobile market.
The law demonstrates that Americans can and will meet the global warming challenge,
and reaffirms California's worldwide leadership in pollution safeguards and clean
The law -- known as AB 1493 -- is the first of its kind anywhere in world,
and marks a dramatic change in the national global warming debate, according to
NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council). It reaffirms California's successful
40-year leadership in pollution safeguards and clean vehicle technologies.
"We have the know-how to solve this problem safely and affordably. The
law is proof that America doesn't have to take global warming lying down,"
said Ann Notthoff, NRDC's California Advocacy Director. "This is a bold stroke
for the people of California, and an enormous credit to Governor Davis and the
legislators who fought to get it to his desk."
Introduced by Assemblymember Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), AB 1493 requires
automakers for the first time to limit heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions
(CO2), which form a thickening blanket in the atmosphere. It also will reduce
other pollutants, and save consumers money at the gas pump.
Common Sense Solution
to a California Problem
California is second only to Texas in carbon dioxide emissions, with cars and
light trucks responsible for 40 percent of it. Just last month, researchers from
several California universities published a new study documenting the severe threat
of global warming to the state's water supply. Other experts warn of increased
wildfire risk, added strain on the electric grid, and deterioration in air quality.
The law constitutes a major victory over a multi-million dollar campaign by
car companies to defeat it. Despite the barrage of negative advertising, more
than 80 percent of state residents support the global warming pollution cuts,
according to a June poll by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California.
"Californians support this bill because they know global warming threatens
our quality of life," Notthoff said. "Instead of fighting the law, we
encourage the auto industry to face this challenge the same way we do, with the
same spirit of innovation that makes California the fifth largest economy in the
for Politicians, Automakers
The new law has important national impact as well. In June the Bush administration
released a startling report acknowledging the dangerous and costly effects of
global warming in the U.S. and conceding that pollution is in fact to blame (findings
that echo longstanding scientific consensus). This follows the President's withdrawal
last year from an international global warming treaty, and his continuing opposition
to domestic CO2 emission limits.
"Washington can't have it both ways. Scientists have given us the diagnosis;
even the administration has accepted it. Now California is showing us there's
a cure," said David G. Hawkins, director of the NRDC Climate Center. "We
have the solutions to fix this problem, but we have to start now."
Last week 11 state attorneys general -- including California's Bill Lockyer
-- urged President Bush to reconsider his stance and start addressing the problem.
They say the White House vacuum is forcing states to act in place of the federal
government. The result, they said, would be patchwork regulation, slower results
and higher costs. As in past pollution battles, increasing action at the state
level will raise pressure on Washington to step in.
In the meantime, other states may be considering California's new tailpipe
standard. California is the only state allowed to create it's own emissions standards.
But under a special provision of the Clean Air Act, any state is free to adopt
the tougher measures in place of weaker federal rules.
Clean Solutions Exist
Today to Cut CO2
Like California's other pollution control innovations, NRDC predicts the bill
will spur technological advances in Detroit, Tokyo and other automotive capitals.
Unfortunately, protests to the contrary by automaker lobbyists have become standard
procedure in these debates.
"Carmakers have protested every health and safety rule ever written, everything
from seat belts to smog controls. Eventually the public prevails, and the industry
finds a way to meet the standards. That's why cars and trucks today are safer,
cleaner and more powerful than ever," Hawkins said. "We can meet this
challenge quickly once the auto company lobbyists step aside and let their engineers
get to work."
Cost-effective technologies are already available that would reduce CO2 and
other global warming pollutants from cars and light trucks of all sizes. Advances
in engine and transmission technology, as well as improved aerodynamics and better
tires all offer big opportunities. Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler have all announced
plans to produce low CO2, fuel-efficient hybrid SUVs within the next few years.
AB 1493 would accelerate the process, making cleaner solutions available sooner
for more buyers across a broader range of vehicles.
Broad Support for an
The global warming pollution bill has broad support from leading figures in California's
high technology industry. The law is a top priority for NRDC and its 95,000 California
members, as well as the American Lung Association of California and nearly all
the state's major environmental organizations. Other supporters include the California
Teachers Association, California Nurses Association and the California Professional
Local government support comes from the cities of Los Angeles, San Jose, San
Diego and San Francisco, as well as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District
and water management authorities in Marin County, Santa Clara County and the East
Bay. U.S. Senators Feinstein and Boxer and a majority of the state's House delegation
also back the bill. The bill has endorsements from all the major state newspapers,
including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle and San
Jose Mercury News.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization
of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public
health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members
nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.