Clean Air Act Digest, 8.30.12
The House and Senate are currently in recess and will reconvene on September 10 following the completion of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.
Good news: on Tuesday, August 28, the Obama Administration finalized new fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards for cars and light duty trucks for model years 2017-2025. Compared to new vehicles currently on the road, fuel efficiency will nearly double to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon. The final standards were developed by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency after extensive engagement with a wide range of stakeholders; major automakers and the United Auto Workers support the standards.
When combined with the Administration’s first round of standards, finalized in 2010 for model years 2012-2016, this is the single biggest step the US has ever taken to tackle climate change and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. More fuel-efficient cars with fewer emissions will cut back on harmful carbon pollution from tailpipes and help protect public health by reducing asthma attacks, heart attacks, and other respiratory ailments among our kids and seniors.
Bad news: last week a sharply divided federal appeals court struck down Environmental Protection Agency safeguards designed to reduce power plant air pollution that crosses state lines. The Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) would have prevented thousands of premature deaths and saved tens of billions of dollars a year in health costs. This safeguard was finalized in July 2011, and required 28 states in the East, Midwest, and South to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) that cross state lines and worsen air quality in downwind states.
In a small consolation for communities plagued by smog and soot pollution, the ruling left in place the Bush administration EPA’s Clean Air Interstate Rule that the court ruled unlawful in 2008. That rule has remained in place since 2008 but provides inadequate protections to tens of millions of Americans. In overturning the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the judges sent EPA back to the drawing board to craft new health safeguards to protect Americans against power plant smog and soot pollution transported across state lines. Many groups are calling on the EPA to appeal this decision.
–Last chance to send in comments!
Support EPA’s Rule for Strong Soot Protections
On June 14, EPA proposed a new rule to protect America’s families and children from fine particulate matter, also called soot. Soot is a danger to some of the most vulnerable segments of the population, including children, the elderly, those with heart and lung disease, and low income people. This dangerous form of air pollution can cause damage to the heart and lungs, asthma attacks, and even premature death. EPA made the right choice to keep our air clean and safe to breathe, but the agency is facing pressure from big polluters who are trying to stop this life-saving standard. The EPA is taking public comments on the proposed soot standard.
Send in your comments now, because the official comment period closes tomorrow (August 31). It’s time to clear our skies and protect public health. Use the action alerts linked below to send a comment to the EPA in support of stronger protections from soot pollution.
Stand Up for Strong Soot Protections, Sierra Club Action Alert: http://bit.ly/LPfONG
Support the EPA’s Limit on Harmful Soot Pollution, Moms Clean Air Force Action Alert: http://bit.ly/S6pOFL
Help Us Cut Deadly Soot Pollution, Earthjustice Action Alert: http://bit.ly/NhCsRU
Business Leaders: New 54.5 MPG Standard Good for Automakers, Consumers and Economy, Ceres Press Release, 8.28.12
Obama Admin. Finalizes Historic Clean Car Standards, Environment America Press Release, 8.28.12
Obama Administration Finalizes Historic 54.5 mpg Fuel Efficiency Standards, White House Press Release, 8.28.12
Strong Clean Car and Fuel Economy Standards Finalized, Here Are the Details and Numbers..., Natural Resources Defense Council Blog, 8.28.12
Infographic: Driving to 54.5 MPG by 2025, Pew Environment Group, 8.28.12
Babies Need Strong Voices To Protect Them From Harmful Air Pollution, Moms Clean Air Force Blog, 8.24.12
Life-Saving Cross-State Air Pollution Protections in Jeopardy After Court Ruling, Sierra Club Blog, 8.20.12
Above is a sampling of the most recent resources related to upholding the Clean Air Act. Don’t forget USCAN has a series of pages that compile items like these and much more:
Clean Air Act Digest is a publication put together by US Climate Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council. Please contact Lara Levison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Click here for past issues.