This is a guest post from Jesse Prentice-Dunn of the Sierra Club Green Transportation Campaign.
Great news! After four years of waiting and a misguided rejection by the Bush Administration, the EPA has finally granted California the waiver necessary to implement its clean car standards. This is a real victory for California and the fourteen other states that have adopted the greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles.
California's standards, which require automakers to sell cleaner, more efficient vehicles, are more stringent than the current national fuel economy regulations and will cut oil consumption and global warming pollution. While new national greenhouse gas standards for vehicles will apply to vehicles in 2012-2016, this decision will allow California and other states to implement tailpipe standards in the years leading up to 2012. In 2010, automakers will have to meet California's greenhouse gas standards (PDF) in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. In 2011, Maryland and New Mexico will join the program.
It's important to note that California retains the Clean Air Act authority to set global warming standards in the future. In adopting clean car standards, California has proven that it can lead the nation in developing policies that will curb global warming and drive innovation.
Also, check out California's Environmental Performance label for vehicles (the image above), which allows consumers to see how a new vehicle stacks up against others in terms of greenhouse gas and smog forming emissions. Eight states have adopted California's Environmental Performance label. While automakers must make cleaner vehicles, providing consumers with this information will allow them to factor global warming and pollution into their purchasing decisions.
So happy Waiver Day, everyone! Granting the California waiver is yet another concrete step by the Obama Administration to reduce emissions – let's keep this snowball rolling downhill!