Wednesday, December 19, 2007

President Bush Signs Energy Bill into Law; EPA Immeidately Uses New Legislation to Reject California's Clean Air Act Wavier Request

President Bush signed the 2007 federal energy bill into law today. The new legislation will boost fuel economy standards for vehicles and increase renewable fuel production, but is actually a major step backward for the renewable electricity industry, particularly solar and wind.

National Public Radio takes an in-depth look at the provisions of the new legislation, including an interview with Tom Carnahan (mp3), president of the Wind Capital Group. Mr. Carnahan discusses the likely impact of the failure to extend the production tax credit for renewable projects.

Meanwhile, on a related issue, EPA has just rejected California's request for a Clean Air Act waiver to implement tighter carbon dioxide emissions standards for vehicles. EPA's justification? We like the fuel economy standards in the new energy legislation better:
The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday slapped down California's bid for first-in-the-nation greenhouse gas limits on cars, trucks and SUVs, denying a request for a waiver that would have allowed those restrictions to take effect.

``The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution - not a confusing patchwork of state rules,'' EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson told reporters on a conference call. ``I believe this is a better approach than if individual states were to act alone.''

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In explaining his decision, Johnson cited energy legislation approved by Congress and signed into law Wednesday by President Bush. The law requires automakers to achieve an industrywide average fuel efficiency for cars, SUVs and small trucks of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 - the first increase in the federal requirement in 32 years. That law``achieves the greatest greenhouse reductions in the history of the United States,'' Johnson said, and is preferable to a state-by-state approach.

Governor Schwarzenegger has already indicated that California will appeal the determination.

UPDATE: The L.A. Times has more on EPA's waiver request denial as does Green Car Congress. EPA's explanation of its decision is here.

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