BILL WOULD TIGHTEN CAR EMISSION STANDARDS
(AUSTIN) — Texas would adopt stricter California carbon emissions standards under a bill filed on Monday by Houston Senator Rodney Ellis. This filing comes on the heels of a presidential order to the EPA to review a waiver request by California officials to strengthen the state's own emission standards. Ellis said that Texas should join with 13 other states in adopting California's stricter limits. "It makes it incumbent on us in Texas, to be leaders in having a greener economy and doing as much as we can to reduce the number of greenhouse emissions that go into the air," he said.
Federal laws permit a state to adopt either federal emission standards or the more stringent California standards as part of the Clean Air Act. Because of this, California must seek a federal waiver when it chooses to change its own emission standards. Under the Bush administration, a waiver request to move these standards to require a one-third reduction in car emissions by 2016 was denied. Monday, President Obama signed an executive memorandum directing the EPA to review the waiver request, and it is expected the agency will approve the new California standards. Ellis believes his bill, which failed to pass last session, will find the new political climate more amenable to increased emission standards. "We think that the announcement the Obama administration is going to make today," he said, "will create an opportunity for our clean car legislation to be taken seriously by our colleagues and hopefully passed."
Ellis added that while new emissions restrictions would raise the price of a new car, this would be offset by fuel efficiency savings. Based on current fuel prices, the average driver would save about $18 per month in gas under the California fuel-efficiency standards. Compared with the expected $7 increase in monthly payments, for a five year note, for a 2012 model car with the new standards, Ellis said drivers would save about $11 a month.