This morning, President Obama signed two Presidential Memoranda focusing on energy independence and climate change:
Obama Opens Way for States to Tighten Emissions Rules
Kim Chipman and Edwin Chen, Bloomberg – January 26, 2009:
President Barack Obama opened the way for California and other states to set stricter vehicle emissions rules on their own to curb global warming, a step opposed by automakers.
Obama also announced today that his administration will finish work on new federal rules requiring cars and light trucks to be more fuel-efficient by 2011. He linked the actions to his plan to revitalize the economy.
“Our goal is not to further burden an already struggling industry, it is to help America's automakers prepare for the future,” Obama said at the White House today. “We must ensure that the fuel efficient cars of tomorrow are built right here.”
The actions make good on an Obama campaign promise and mark a reversal from President George W. Bush's environmental policies.
Documents and testimony obtained by the Oversight Committee last year showed that despite EPA career staff unanimously supporting California's request for a waiver to enforce its greenhouse gas emissions standards, the Bush White House interfered and the waiver was subsequently denied. See previous coverage of this issue on the Gavel>>
Speaker Pelosi on President Obama’s action:
This morning, President Obama signaled that our country can no longer afford to wait to combat the climate crisis and our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. He is setting our country on a path led by science and innovation, in a dramatic departure from the past eight years.
Granting the request of California and other states to move forward with reducing greenhouse gases emissions from vehicles will steer American automakers to retool their fleets. Only through innovation will automakers be able to create the greener cars of the future and regain their global competitiveness.
President Obama has also sent a clear message on CAFE standards. Restarting the implementation of new fuel efficiency standards will allow the Obama Administration to bring fresh thinking to the process and ensure the standards achieve the goals set by Congress in the landmark 2007 energy bill.
The New Direction Congress will work with President Obama to embrace a clean, renewable, and energy independent future for America. We look forward to building on the historic Energy Independence and Security Act with an economic recovery package that works to double renewable energy generation, invests in green infrastructure, and creates the clean energy jobs that will provide a stronger economy for the future.
Chairman Ed Markey, Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence:
Eight years ago, we had a president who broke his campaign promises to fight global warming and increase our energy independence. Today, President Obama is keeping his pledge to rebuild our economy, protect our climate, and move America towards an efficient, clean energy future.
This is an energy triple play that will cut global warming pollution, increase innovation, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It shows what a visionary president is capable of doing, and the faith he has in the economic revival that America’s automotive and energy industries can produce.
After more than a decade of fighting for stronger fuel economy standards, I was worried the Bush administration would scuttle the progress we had made and turn strong policy into shaky results. President Obama is right to reconsider the way these fuel economy standards are implemented, and will undoubtedly use sound science and realistic analysis to achieve the strongest results that benefit consumers.
Granting the waiver to California, Massachusetts and other states to go forward with reducing global warming emissions from vehicle tailpipes is what even the Bush Administration's own experts concluded must be done, and I'm delighted that the era of politics trumping science and the law is over. I call upon the auto industry to use the billions in bailout funds they have received to engineer a cleaner, more efficient future, instead of continuing to litigate their way to protecting a dirty, inefficient past.
And as we push to weatherize and update millions of homes and buildings in an effort to create jobs, making our federal agencies more energy efficient is a perfect way to practice what we are preaching.
President Obama is choosing technology innovation over traditional stagnation, and it will make our cars and trucks better, our buildings more efficient and our planet safer.
Chairman Henry Waxman, Committee on Energy and Commerce:
This is a tremendous and long overdue step for energy independence and the environment. President Obama is taking the nation in a decisive new direction that will receive broad support across the country.