Statement of Carol Browner
Administrator of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1993-2001
Board of Directors, Center for American Progress
Today President George W. Bush will take an historic step toward ending the gas guzzler era. President Bush can end 2007 with a victory lap by promptly granting California’s request to limit global warming pollution from motor vehicle tailpipes.
Bush’s signature on the Energy Independence and Security Act will establish the first increase in motor vehicle fuel economy standards since 1975 and will expand the use of biofuels nationwide. This momentous law would not have been possible without the dedicated leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and bipartisan congressional support.
This historic energy legislation will eventually reduce American oil consumption by 2.8 million barrels per day. The new fuel economy standards alone will save drivers $22 billion in fuel costs and will cut oil use by 1.1 million barrels daily in 2020—about the same amount that we import each day from Nigeria. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the improved fuel economy standard will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 190 million tons each year, an achievement equivalent to the removal of 28 million cars from the road. The biofuels standard will reduce oil use by an additional 1.7 million barrels per day in 2022, making the bill an even more significant win for the environment and the American public.
In 2005, California asked the Environmental Protection Agency if it could set its own emissions standard for vehicles because the federal government had not acted. The Supreme Court and several federal courts have affirmed its right to do so under the Clean Air Act. Nonetheless, the administration has not yet approved California’s clean car request. The last time a California request was even partially denied was in 1975. Fifteen other states plan to adopt California’s standards once they are approved, which would mean that 40 percent of the market would comprise of vehicles emitting significantly less global warming pollution than they emit today.
President Bush should take advantage of this opportunity to make motor vehicle history by signing the energy bill and approving California’s clean car request.