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Brown Files to Support Federal Clean Air Standards

Monday, June 7, 2010
Contact: (415) 703-5837

OAKLAND — Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced today that he has asked to intervene in a lawsuit in order to protect newly adopted motor vehicle emission standards that would save nearly two billion barrels of oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately one billion tons.

Brown filed a motion to intervene in the U.S. Court of Appeals in support of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a suit brought by energy companies and other industries challenging the EPA’s authority to enforce the tough emission standards beginning in 2012.

“The thousands of barrels of oil spilling in the Gulf of Mexico each day are a graphic reminder that we need to cut oil consumption in America,” said Brown. “These regulations would do that, as well as vastly reducing pollution from tailpipe emissions.”

The EPA’s new vehicle emissions standards are the first significant reduction in federal fuel consumption standards in more than 30 years. Over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the first five years, the national program is projected to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2.1 billion tons and save 1.8 billion barrels of oil. Consumers can expect the new standards to save them between $130 and $180 a year in fuel costs.

EPA estimates the lifetime savings under the program for 2012 through 2016 model-year vehicles at $240 billion. The benefits include fuel savings, carbon dioxide reductions, improved air quality, and enhanced energy security.

California has long set the pace in enacting tough pollution standards, and it has been active in attempting to protect its right to impose those standards and in encouraging other states and the federal government to adopt similar standards.

In Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), the Supreme Court ruled that the greenhouse gases that cause global warming are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and that EPA’s evaluation of whether those emissions from motor vehicles endanger public health or welfare had to be based solely on science. Brown’s office took a lead role in that case.

EPA has now made that endangerment finding. As the Supreme Court noted, such a finding triggers a mandatory duty on EPA to adopt motor vehicle regulations. EPA adopted those regulations on April 1 in a joint rulemaking with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those regulations set greenhouse gas emission standards and fuel economy standards that will achieve a fleet-wide fuel economy for new cars and trucks of roughly 35 miles per gallon in model year 2016.

These motor vehicle regulations are the rough equivalent of California’s regulations. As part of a nationwide deal announced at the White House in May 2009, California agreed that compliance with national standards of equivalent stringency would also constitute compliance with California’s established regulations, and the automobile manufacturing industry agreed not to challenge those standards (through model year 2016.) If these EPA vehicle standards were successfully challenged, that nationwide deal would fall apart.

Brown’s filing today is in a lawsuit challenging the motor vehicle rule brought by industrial concerns plus politicians and other opponents of EPA action on global warming. Plaintiffs include Massey Energy Company, Rosebud Mining Company, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Industrial Minerals Association of North America. The challenge was not joined by the automobile manufacturing industry, the only party directly affected by the EPA regulations.

Brown filed the motion on behalf of himself, Governor Schwarzenegger and the state Air Resources Board, plus 12 other states – Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the City of New York.

A copy of the Motion to Intervene is attached.

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