Authored by Jon Mercer in Environment
Published on 02-02-2009
To clear the way for states to put stricter limits on greenhouse emissions from cars, President Barack Obama began to reverse the policies of the Bush administration this week. According to an report on Reuters.com, the president asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider California’s request to impose stricter limits on vehicle carbon dioxide emissions. The request was made once before, during the Bush administration, but was ignored.
Eighteen other states are following California’s lead in putting tougher than federal requirement tailpipe emissions standards into effect. The President has also told the Department of Transportation to set higher vehicle fuel efficiency standards by March, 2011. This date only allows automakers an eighteen month window to comply with the new regulations or face penalties.
Obama made no comment about former President Bush’s environmental policies, but he did say, “The federal government must work with the states, not against them, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” He has also instructed the U.S. government in general to be more energy efficient. The President has high hopes for his administration and he stated that it is time for the United States to take the lead on climate change and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
“It will be the policy of my administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil,” Obama said, and adding he was aware that the very same statement has been maid by previous administrations, who didn’t follow through. “We need more than just the same old empty promises. We need to show that this time it will be different.”
Todd Stern, a senior White House official under former President Bill Clinton, is expected to be named climate change envoy by the U.S. State Department. Stern was the coordinator of the Clinton administration’s Initiative on Global Climate Change from 1997 to 1999. Stern also acted as the senior White House negotiator at the Kyoto summit on climate control.
By not setting federal vehicle gasoline mileage requirements, the Bush administration has given the Obama administration the opportunity to impose a much higher fuel economy standard. These stricter limits could force the auto companies to develop more cars and trucks that use alternative fuels. Gasoline demand accounts for half of the United States daily oil consumption. If higher fuel economy standards are imposed, it could reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and give way to the development of more alternative fuels like electricity, natural gas, and hydrogen.