Help sway the EPA for clean car standards to stay

It’s personal.

President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has shown signs it wants to roll back Obama-era rules that thousands of Oregonians and dozens of Oregon businesses successfully achieved before they were adopted nationwide.

At stake, rules that would “eliminate as much as six billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and save consumers more than $1 trillion at the pump over the lifetime of the cars affected,” according to a solid story by The New Times. The piece reviews the history of how California and 12 other states, including Oregon, insisted automakers curb pollution.

Those companies, not long after taking $80 billion in bailout money, agreed. Now they’ve flip-flopped.

Or at least, they’re trying to wobble out of promises they made to us and our health. The Times reports automakers asked Trump, the day after his election, to reconsider rules the companies agreed to follow. Then they “doubled down” last February in a letter to EPA’s chief, Scott Pruitt.

We’re asking supporters of clean-car standards to reach out to the EPA. The adoption of clean car standards is a legacy win for Oregon Environmental Council.

News about Trump’s potential rollback was announced earlier this year. Not long after, Sen. Jeff Merkley and a group of federal lawmakers  voiced opposition of the potential roll back. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum also joined 11 other Attorneys General in threatening to sue the EPA if it weakens clean car standards. Last March, OEC’s Deputy Director Chris Hagerbaumer described the importance of this issue to our state.

Hagerbaumer wrote:

These protections were so sensible and so cost-effective that in 2009 the federal government adopted them nationwide. Because of proactive states like Oregon, our cars are cheaper to drive, our air is cleaner, and our tailpipes are emitting fewer greenhouse gases.

The nation’s clean car standards and complementary fuel-economy standards have led to important technological innovations. Contrary to automakers’ dire predictions, these regulations have not put them out of business. In fact, complying has cost them less than they anticipated, and the U.S. auto industry is in the midst of record sales and high profits.

But these smart standards are in jeopardy.

Back in 2005, Oregon Environmental Council joined forces with Environment Oregon to bring together a coalition of more than 100 businesses, health professionals, faith leaders, elected officials and conservation groups in support of the clean car standards. Together with more than 5,000 individual Oregonians, our Clean Cars for Oregon coalition convinced the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to adopt the clean car standards.

Ever since, Oregon Environmental Council has been at the table, making sure the rules for implementing these tailpipe standards were strong and fighting back against any attacks. In addition, we’re working to make sure that a requirement shared by Oregon and eight other states, which requires automakers to sell a certain percentage of electric cars, remains intact.

We’ve learned of two easy options for supporters of clean cars to reach out to the EPA. The Union of Concerned Scientists, which has calculated even greater savings by consumers at the pump, has a website with a pre-written letter to the EPA that can be sent electronically or mailed.

The Environmental Defense Fund also has a similar option with pre-written letters that would be sent electronically to the EPA. Take your pick. Deadline, according to the Federal Register, is Oct. 5, 2017.

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