Testimony before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Nathan Willcox

re: California’s Waiver Request to Implement its Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) and Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Programs through 2025

Environment America

On September 19, 2012, Environment America’s Nathan Willcox gave testimony before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. in support of California’s request to move ahead with its Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) and Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) programs through 2025. These two clean car programs will help to further reduce oil use, while cutting emissions in California of the pollutants that lead to smog and which fuel global warming. Full testimony:

Hello and thank you for the opportunity to testify today on this important topic. My name is Nathan Willcox and I am the Federal Global Warming Program Director for Environment America. Environment America is the federation of 29 state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. Environment America and our state groups were actively involved in the push in California and the thirteen other states to see California’s original clean cars program adopted, and we wholeheartedly support California’s waiver request to implement its Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) and Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) programs through 2025.

Getting cleaner cars and trucks on the road is absolutely critical to our effort to tackle global warming, as only power plants produce more global warming pollution nationwide than do cars and light trucks. And the past twelve months alone have offered numerous examples of why tackling global warming is essential to protecting our environment, our health and our safety. From deadly heat waves and wildfires to devastating floods, recent extreme weather events offer even more proof that our climate is changing in dangerous ways, and emphasize the need to cut emissions of the carbon pollution that is fueling the problem. The LEV and ZEV programs are two of the best tools available to cut carbon emissions within the transportation sector. In fact, the California Air Resources Board estimates that by 2025, the LEV and ZEV programs would cut carbon dioxide emissions by almost 14 million metric tons per year. The LEV program is also critical to cutting emissions of criteria pollutants that lead to smog and other dangerous air pollution problems.

California’s LEV and ZEV programs, by tightening emissions limits for our cars and trucks, have also helped build a vehicle fleet that consumes less oil. From the rivers and coastlines that are devastated by oil spills, to the carbon pollution created by the burning of oil, to the pain that consumers feel at the gas pump because of our dependence on this finite resource, there are many important reasons why getting off oil is in our country’s best interest—and these standards help to push automakers to create cars that are part of the solution instead of exacerbating the problem.

These clean car programs are important not just for California, but for the nation as a whole. For the past four decades, California and its standards have served as a laboratory for advancing cleaner car technologies. And because of the adoption of these standards by other states, and the support their adoption helped provide for the national clean cars program, the rest of the country has less pollution and cleaner air as well.

Finally, the Clean Air Act expressly recognizes California’s right to set vehicle emission standards that are stronger than the federal standards, and the right of other states to adopt California’s standards. California has clearly met all of the legal and technical requirements for its waiver request, and EPA should therefore grant the state’s request without delay. Denying the request would be inconsistent with EPA’s past actions, to say nothing of the threat it would pose to the ability of these standards to continue reaping benefits for California and the nation as a whole.

Thank you again for the opportunity to testify today.