Release 08-37
May 7, 2008

    Stanley Young

Air Resources Board study proves California clean car law is more effective in

fighting global warming than federal fuel economy standards

The California Air Resources Board today issued a technical study that conclusively demonstrates that California's clean cars law (the Pavley regulations) achieves 41 percent greater total reductions of greenhouse gases nationwide compared to the recently proposed federal fuel economy standards by 2020. In 2020, California's clean car law will result in the equivalent of removing an additional 14 million cars compared to the federal standards.

"We applaud the federal fuel economy standards. They will help reduce our use of fossil fuels." said ARB chairman Mary Nichols. "But they simply do not provide us with adequate protection against climate change. The California regulation is the only one that deals directly with greenhouse gases and it stands head and shoulders above the federal standards. It will ensure that auto manufacturers provide consumers with cleaner cars using readily available technology to reduce pollution and fight global warming."

The new ARB study is based on a comparison of greenhouse gas reductions from cars and trucks under the California standards and under the schedule for fuel economy standards proposed for 2011 through 2015 by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

The ARB study also demonstrates that:

The ARB analysis not only demonstrates that the proposed federal fuel economy standards are not as stringent, but also highlights the fact that the federal standards were never designed to fight global warming in the first place. By contrast, the California standards which are designed to draw upon readily available automobile technology, are part of a comprehensive approach to expressly reduce greenhouse gases from cars.

Twenty other states with close to half of all the registered vehicles in the nation have either formally adopted the California regulations or are in the process of doing so. Despite the clear benefits of the California standards, these states are prevented from enforcing them because the United States Environmental Protection Agency has refused to grant a waiver that allows the more stringent tailpipe emissions standards to take effect. California along with other leadership states have taken the federal government to court to overturn the denial of that waiver.

The proposed fuel economy standards issued by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration on April 22 also included language which attempts to re-write existing law and prevent California (and all states that wished to follow California) from ever enforcing standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars. This prompted a letter from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the governors of eleven other states expressing their outrage and opposition to the Secretary of Transportation .

"NHTSA has no authority to preempt states from regulating greenhouse gases. Congress and two federal district courts have rejected NHTSA's claim to such authority. Furthermore, this attack completely undermines the cooperative federalism principles embodied in the Clean Air Act, and is an end run around 40 years of precedent under that law. "

The report can be found at /cc/ccms/reports/final_pavleyaddendum.pdf.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy cost, see our web site at