Stalled Climate Change Bill Means Strategy Shift for Environmentalists

Posted on September 14, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

With the midterm elections looming and little to no chance of getting Congress to act on comprehensive climate change and energy legislation, “green” proponents have lowered their expectations and are now looking to achieve more modest goals.

Shifting strategy, a coalition of environment groups is pressing the Obama administration and federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, to set ambitious pollution control and fuel economy measures.

Increasing the fuel efficiency of cars to 60 miles-per-gallon by 2025 is just one of the demands of the coalition, which includes the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Clean Water Action, Environment America and more than a dozen other environmental and science organizations.

On September 9, the group sent a letter to President Obama reminding him of his promise to “cut America’s oil dependence and address climate change by making our cars and trucks cleaner and more fuel efficient.”

The letter, noting an approaching deadline for DOT and EPA to release proposals involving the development of fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards for new cars and trucks, included the following recommendations:

• Reduce the country’s oil dependence by at least 49 billion gallons per year by 2030 and reduce carbon dioxide pollution by at least 535 million metric tons per year by 2030

• Require new light-duty vehicles to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards of at least 60 miles-per-gallon and global warming tailpipe pollution standards of no more than 143 grams-per-mile by model year 2025

• Reduce fuel consumption for long-haul trucks pulling standard van trailers by at least 35 percent by model year 2017

According to the coalition the letter is just “one piece of a new national campaign to build support for strong vehicle standards.” The plan also includes online and media campaigns along with grassroots action.

In addition to calling for increased fuel efficiency standards, the green coalition will urge the EPA and other agencies to enact policies requiring industries to curb emissions.

The strategy shift by environmental groups comes after a disappointing summer that saw the Senate scrap a wide-ranging climate control and energy bill. It also acknowledges an expected power shift on the Hill with Republicans possibly gaining control of the House and Senate, which will make it all but impossible for President Obama to get his agenda through Congress.

With the road leading to the passage of sweeping climate control legislation effectively blocked, it becomes increasingly crucial for green groups to lobby the Administration and federal agencies to impose existing standards, which don’t require Congressional action, as a way to secure climate control and “green energy” victories.

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