Release 08-51
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2008

    Stanley Young
(916) 956-9409
www.arb.ca.gov


ARB chairman addresses concerns raised by California congressional republicans regarding California Clean Cars Law


SACRAMENTO: Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, sent the following letter in response to a May 23 letter by thirteen Republican members of the California Congressional delegation to Governor Schwarzenegger. In that letter, the representatives called for a "federal process" namely, the federal fuel economy provisions in the Energy Bill to replace California's Clean Cars Law (also known as the Pavley regulations developed under AB 1493).

Chairman Nichols' letter outlines the fundamental difference between federal fuel economy standards and the California Clean Cars Law. "The Clean Cars law is not a fuel economy law; it is an achievable vehicle performance standard regulating greenhouse gases to address climate change. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not a simple function of fuel economy, but is instead the result of a comprehensive approach that includes vehicle energy efficiency, the type of fuel used, emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrous oxides from fuel combustion, and potent refrigerant leaks from vehicular air conditioning systems. Moreover, the Supreme Court, two federal courts, and EISA's Section 3 and legislative history clearly demonstrate that fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulation from vehicles derive from different legislative authority, use different regulatory tools, and address different public purposes."

The full letter follows:


May 29, 2008


Dear Representatives,

Governor Schwarzenegger forwarded to me your letter of May 23 regarding California's Clean Cars law. I appreciate your support for our shared principles of reducing pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions, from motor vehicles.

With the California Clean Cars law, greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty cars and trucks will be reduced by 30% by 2016, with additional stringency when the second phase is adopted for the period 2016-2020. California and the 13 other states that have adopted the standard will create the only greenhouse gas standard for vehicles in the country, a uniform standard covering about half of the U.S. auto market. When the federal government responds to the United States Supreme Court order to address greenhouse gases from cars, there will be at most two such emissions standards in the country, as has been the case through four decades of successful Clean Air Act implementation.

Recognizing the emission reductions targeted by the California Clean Cars law prompts me to correct a misunderstanding in your letter. The Clean Cars law is not a fuel economy law; it is an achievable vehicle performance standard regulating greenhouse gases to address climate change. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not a simple function of fuel economy, but is instead the result of a comprehensive approach that includes vehicle energy efficiency, the type of fuel used, emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrous oxides from fuel combustion, and potent refrigerant leaks from vehicular air conditioning systems. Moreover, the Supreme Court, two federal courts, and EISA's Section 3 and legislative history clearly demonstrate that fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulation from vehicles derive from different legislative authority, use different regulatory tools, and address different public purposes. An illustrative example of this difference is the fact that the Clean Cars program will offer greater greenhouse gas reductions than would be achieved by relying on fuel economy regulation alone. Our estimates show that Clean Cars will reduce GHGs in the 14 adopting states by 40% more than the federal fuel economy rule. In California the benefits are even greater - 50% more GHG reduction using a comprehensive GHG program than under a fuel economy regulation.

I agree that climate change requires a national solution, and I look forward to working with you to pass strong federal legislation to aggressively reduce our Nation's greenhouse gas emissions. I believe that a successful national program must build on the foundation of successful state programs such as California's Clean Cars law that will continue to deliver cost-effective GHG reductions, drive the market for new clean technology, and save consumers money.

Please don't hesitate to contact me or my staff if we can be of assistance to you in discussing the critical role of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in order to achieve our shared environmental goals.


Sincerely,

Mary Nichols

Chairman, California Air Resources Board



The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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