Less than a week into office, President Obama announced monumental decisions this morning that show America and the world that he will lead our country in a bold new direction to protect the environment and fight global warming.
The President directed his EPA to immediately review the Bush Administration's denial of the right of California and other states to set global warming pollution standards for new cars. He also directed the Department of Transportation to set higher national fuel efficiency standards.
What will that mean in the real world? If Obama's EPA, as expected, approves the California program, new cars sold in that state and at least 13 others will have to reduce their global warming pollution by 30 percent between 2009 and 2016. And the Department of Transportation will require more efficient new cars to be on the road starting in 2010, and set a course for the average new car to achieve maximum feasible fuel efficiency by 2020.
Simply put, President Obama is not just stepping up to the threat of climate chaos. His call for a fleet of cleaner cars will help reduce our dangerous dependence on oil and push automakers to make the cars that the world wants and needs in the 21st century.
NRDC's climate attorneys were present at the White House this morning, and you can imagine their elation at this historic breakthrough. Thanks to your support, NRDC led the fight in 2002 for California's Clean Cars Law -- the very first law to cut global warming pollution from automobiles.
And when the Bush Administration and the automakers threw up roadblocks to that law, NRDC and our partners took the legal fight all the way to the Supreme Court -- and won. But the Bush EPA persist in its unlawful obstructionism until the bitter end.
This morning, President Obama took America's foot off the brake and put cleaner cars into high gear. The automakers should be lining up to thank him. This is just the kind of turbo-charged policy they need to start producing cars that are better for the planet, better for consumers, and better for the economy.
What a difference a new President makes! But I also want to recognize your generous support and online activism that kept NRDC's clean car campaign in drive through eight tough years and countless courtrooms.
We were in the White House this morning representing you. And I truly believe this is just the beginning. If we seize this rare opportunity for environmental change, there's no telling what we can do in 2009. Congratulations!
Natural Resources Defense Council