Md. Urges Congress to Include Greenhouse Gas Provisions in Automaker Aid Deal

BALTIMORE (Nov. 21, 2008)—Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler joined with several other Attorneys General urging Congress to include greenhouse gas legislation with any relief package as both houses meet in Washington D.C. this week to decide whether to give the ailing U.S. automobile industry financial aid.

"In Maryland, our Clean Cars Act recognizes that cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars are one way we can protect our environment and our Chesapeake Bay. The domestic auto manufacturers must change their ways," said Gansler. "Requiring them to produce cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars is key to their future success and must be part of any financial package," he added.

The letter, which is addressed to Speaker of the House Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid, asserts that "if the U.S. auto industry is serious about taking millions in aid from our pockets, it must show us that it too is serious about global warming and taking a leading (and therefore profitable) role as a producer of fuel-efficient and carbon-sensitive vehicles." It requests that any legislation giving financial support to the auto industry be dependent upon a commitment by the auto manufacturers to drop their opposition to California's greenhouse gas emission standards for new motor vehicles. It also urges Congress to include legislation to remove any doubt that California's standards are enforceable if it takes up any short- or long-term financial aid for the automobile industry.

The Clean Car Act requires Maryland to adopt standards similar to California's stricter standards and was signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley in 2007. The standards adopted by the Maryland Department of the Environment become effective in Maryland for new passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty vehicles beginning in model year 2011, significantly reducing emissions including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), two of the leading causes of Maryland's ozone problems. The Clean Cars Act will also allow for regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Maryland if California is granted a waiver by the EPA to officially adopt GHG emissions standards.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must grant a waiver to California for its standards in order for Maryland's and other states' standards to be effective. EPA denied the waiver in December of 2007, but that decision is under appeal.

On September 12, 2007, Chief Judge William K. Sessions III rejected the auto industry plaintiffs' claim that the emission standards are actually fuel economy standards that conflict with the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act. He also ruled that the GHG emission standards do not interfere with the foreign policy powers of the President or Congress. The auto industry has appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. On December 12, 2007, a federal court in California issued a similar ruling upholding California's regulations and that decision is under appeal as well.

Maryland joined with Vermont, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Oregon to send the letter to Congress.

Source: Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler

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