Ellis: Supreme Court Global Warming Ruling Must Spur Texas to Act
Ellis calls on legislature to pass emission reduction legislation
AUSTIN - Citing yesterday's global warming ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today urged the legislature to take action on legislation mandating emission reduction in Texas.
Ellis called for quick action on SB 124, the Texas Clean Cars Act, which will reduce air pollution from cars and trucks, save consumers money at the gas pump, boost our economy and clean up our state's air.
"I am extremely pleased to see that the U.S. Supreme Court in the land agrees that the federal agency charged with protecting the air we breathe has the authority to regulate global warming," said Ellis. "This ruling is further vindication for those of us in Texas and 12 other states who are tired of waiting on Washington and are, instead, working to pass our own statewide vehicle emission plan."
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate the pollution that causes global warming, allowing states to adopt the Clean Cars Programs to reduce emissions and curb global warming. Senate Bill 124 would implement a low-emission vehicle program consistent with other major states.
The Clean Air Act allows states to choose between complying with federal vehicle emission standards and adopting the Clean Cars Program - implemented by the state of California and currently in place in 11 states including New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. The requirements include tight limits on tailpipe and evaporative emissions of several air pollutants, including carbon dioxide. Those states also include a provision that ensures that a certain percentage of cars sold include advanced technology, such as hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles, to further reduce emissions. New Mexico, North Carolina and Maryland are also considering adoption of the program.
The clean air plans for the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston areas, which are both designated as "non-attainment" with federal air quality standards, have come under fire recently for not requiring enough emissions reductions to meet EPA requirements. The Clean Cars Program is critical to helping Texas comply with the law and ensure healthy air for its citizens. According to NESCAUM, the Clean AIR Association of the Northeast States, by the year 2020, the Clean Cars Program in Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island will reduce vehicle emissions of smog-forming pollutants nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds by 10.8% and 4.8% respectively. Emissions of global warming pollution will decrease by 18% in 2020.
"Texas has been one of the largest polluters for a very long time. Many of our metropolitan areas are in non-attainment areas and are being penalized and fined by the federal government for not meeting the Clean Air Act standards," said Senator Ellis. "This legislation will require automakers to sell us the same clean cars and light trucks required in 11 other states. It will cut air pollution in Texas by ten of thousands of tons each year and save us all money at the pump."
Vehicles with reduced global warming emissions will save consumers money at the gas pump. At current gas prices, buyers of new cars will save $2,520 over ten years and buyers of new light trucks will save $2,706. A 2002 poll commissioned by Public Citizen found that 79% of Texans support (54% strongly support) requiring all new cars and trucks to reduce emissions.
"We know the problem, we know its scope, and we know which policy changes need to be made to reduce the impact of global warming in Texas, " said Ellis. "We've had enough talk, it is time for action. We can no longer afford to sit back and do nothing."