Facts About Cleaner Cars Standards
Another Victory for Cleaner Cars in Maine!
Maine has taken another major step forward in reducing air pollution from cars, promoting energy efficient vehicles, and reducing the threat of global warming.
On October 6th, the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) held a public hearing to gather testimony on a proposal that would establish standards for global warming emissions from new cars and trucks sold in Maine, identical to rules already adopted in California, Oregon, Washington, New York and Vermont. NRCM strongly supports these standards and worked with other environmental, consumer, and public health groups to ensure their enactment. NRCM and these groups attended the hearing and gave strong testimony in support of cleaner cars in Maine and the proposed global warming tailpipe emissions standards.
On December 1, 2005 the BEP voted unanimously to approve the global warming tailpipe emission standards for all new cars and trucks sold in Maine. Adoption of these standards will mean a 30% reduction in global warming pollution from cars and trucks as compared to the 2002 fleet.
Why Action Was Necessary
Since the 1990s, Maine has joined with other New England States in adopting the California Low Emission Vehicle Program (CAL-LEV) rules, designed to reduce air pollution. The CAL-LEV program sets stricter standards than federal requirements for cars and light trucks, using the cleanest technologies available to reduce tailpipe emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Several modifications of the CAL-LEV program have been adopted in California over the years, and Maine has incorporated all of these changes into our laws – including the most recent modifications that require that approximately 11 percent of the vehicles sold by automakers in Maine starting in 2009 meet low-pollution standards, such as those achieved by hybrid electric-gasoline vehicles.
The auto manufacturers opposed the standards and will continue to do so in the courts here in Maine and in other states across the country.
Maine needed to adopt the new package of Global Warming Tailpipe Emission Standards for the following reasons:
- Global warming pollution from Maine cars and trucks is responsible for nearly 40% of the total statewide global warming emissions.
- Maine already is seeing the warning signs of global warming, with sea level rise, beach erosion, increased temperatures, and reduced precipitation.
- With adoption of the standards, global warming tailpipe emissions would be reduced 22 percent by 2012 and up to 30 percent by 2016 as compared to the 2002 fleet.
- Many studies have concluded that adoption of the global warming tailpipe standards is the single best option available for reducing global warming pollution from cars and trucks.
- Enactment of these standards was deemed the second highest priority out of 54 proposed actions in Maine’s 2004 Climate Action Plan.
- If Maine had failed to adopt these standards by the end of the year, then we would have no longer had an identical program to the one that exists in California – and Maine could have become vulnerable to legal or regulatory action challenging our entire CAL-LEV program. This is because states must adopt either the CAL-LEV program, or the weaker “federal standard.”
- Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island all will adopt the CAL-LEV global warming tailpipe emission standards by next year. While California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and New York have already adopted the standards. Maine made the decision to stay with the leaders in addressing this source of global warming pollution, and not lag behind.
- With rising gas prices, growing dependence on foreign oil, and increasing concern about the threat of global warming – now is the time to require all automakers to deliver cars and trucks to help address these problems.
For more information contact Dylan Voorhees, Energy Project Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine at 622-3101 ext. 212.