Washington, D.C.-Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, today told a Senate Committee in Washington D.C. that Congressional action is urgently needed to set a firm and ambitious cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
The ARB chairman addressed the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, chaired by Senator Boxer.
"California, and other states are already seeing the effects of global warming," said Nichols. "We need action now. Addressing climate change with tough federal legislation must be the first item in the new President's inbox."
In April, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant and ordered the EPA to examine the impacts of global warming and how it could regulate greenhouse gases. Instead, the EPA only described the harm, but declined to make a definitive statement.
"We cannot wait another minute to begin to reverse the neglect of the past eight years and start to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," she said. "The Clean Air Act is a powerful tool that is ready to be put to use starting on day one of the next administration."
Nichols, who served as an Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation at the U.S. EPA for four years under President Clinton, also pointed out that the Clean Air Act could be used effectively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from some of the largest sources in the country, including vehicles and power plants.
As chairman of the California Air Resources Board, Nichols oversees the implementation of California's pioneering climate change legislation. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, usually referred to as "AB 32," was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger on September 27, 2006, just shy of two years ago.
ARB staff are currently putting the finishing touches on the final plan outlining the measures, programs and policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California by 30 percent over the next 12 years. Many of these programs are based on approaches outlined in the Clean Air Act.
While in Washington D.C., Nichols also met with representatives of the American Lung Association to discuss the growing body of evidence about the impacts of global warming on public health, particularly respiratory and other diseases.
A report released by ARB last week indicated that implementing California's global warming law will build on existing programs to reduce smog-causing pollution and toxic soot and delivering additional benefits to public health.
A report on the economic impacts of implementing AB 32, released the same day, found that reducing greenhouse gases also produces net economic benefits for the California economy in 2020. The bulk of the economic benefits are the result of investments in energy efficiency that more than pay for themselves over time. (Both reports can be found at our webpage here.) This directly refuted claims by a representative of the Chamber of Commerce that using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions will be too costly.
Nichols also repeated her request for the EPA to grant the waiver that would allow California to enforce its clean car law and begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.
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.