Media Releases

Environment Colorado

Denver, CO—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency formally denied California’s request for a Clean Air Act waiver of preemption today, blocking the efforts of thirteen states that seek to require automakers to cut pollution from automobile tailpipes. 

“The EPA has turned a blind eye to science, law and the critical role that the states are playing in tackling global warming,” said Keith Hay, energy advocate for Environment Colorado.  “With the leadership of Governor Ritter, Colorado is on track to make our cars cleaner.  The Bush administration needs to get out of the way and let our state take action to fight global warming and protect Colorado consumers.”

In late 2004, California adopted first-of-their-kind standards requiring cars and light-duty trucks to limit emissions that contribute to global warming.  Since then, 12 other states—Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—have adopted the tailpipe standards that will cut emissions from new automobiles by 30 percent by 2016.  Colorado is among at least four other states, including Arizona, Minnesota and Florida that are moving ahead with adoption of the program.

Adoption of the Clean Cars program is an important piece of Governor Ritter’s climate action plan.  If implemented, the state would avoid emitting about 11 million metric tons of global warming pollution, an amount equivalent to taking 2 million cars off the road.  Colorado consumers would benefit as well, saving an annual $600 million by 2020 and $3 billion from the time it was implemented.

“The denial of the waiver is a criminal political game with real consequences for Colorado’s recreation based economy, which depends on stable climate,” said Auden Schendler, Executive Director of Community and Environmental Responsibility for Aspen Skiing Company, one of the country’s largest ski resorts. “Gov. Ritter’s Climate Action plan, including adopting clean cars, helps protect Colorado’s outdoor lifestyle and businesses.”

The EPA sat for two years on California’s request for a waiver under the Clean Air Act before EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson announced in December 2007 that the agency would bar implementation of the standards.  Now, there is evidence that Administrator Johnson acted against a unanimous recommendation of the agency’s professional staff.

“The agency’s failure to give states the go-ahead marks a clear political choice to cater to powerful special interests rather than moving America forward in the fight against global warming,” continued Hay.

California and more than a dozen other states have filed suit against the EPA for failing to heed science and the law in denying California’s request for a federal waiver of pre-emption under section 209(b) of the federal Clean Air Act. 

In addition, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has introduced legislation (S. 2555) that would grant the federal waiver for California, allowing that state and others to move forward with the program.  Environment Colorado is working to ensure that Senators Salazar and Allard support the legislation that will give states like our own the green light to put clean cars on the road.