EPA Urged to Drop Plan to Weaken Vehicle Air Pollution Emissions Standards

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Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 6:56 pm | Updated: 7:01 pm, Tue Apr 10, 2018.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Due to the known effects of increased air pollution on public health and the environment, as well as the potential for higher costs to consumers, Governor Larry Hogan is calling on federal environmental regulators to drop plans to weaken vehicle emissions standards. The Hogan administration is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to leave the current greenhouse gas emissions standards for light-duty vehicles in place and to allow states like Maryland to continue to adopt vehicle emissions standards that are more protective than federal standards.

"Maryland has made significant progress in improving our air quality in recent years, and we are a leader in fighting the effects of climate change. That progress would be jeopardized by any weakening of vehicle emissions standards," said Governor Hogan. "We strongly urge the EPA to drop their plans to weaken vehicle emissions standards, and we call on the agency to allow our state to continue to adopt strong standards to protect the air that Marylanders breathe."

"Maryland is a recognized leader in fighting the effects of climate change, and the Hogan administration opposes efforts to weaken our forward progress on clean cars and a healthy environment," said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. "We will use the law and other tools to block rollbacks. EPA should be supporting state and regional actions to cut greenhouse gases and interstate smog."

Maryland’s opposition to EPA’s announced decision to move toward weakening national greenhouse gas emissions standards for model year 2022-2025 light-duty vehicles was expressed in a multi-state letter sent this week to the federal agency. Secretary Grumbles was among the state environmental officers who signed that letter, which strongly urges EPA to leave the current greenhouse gas emissions standards in place. The letter also calls for EPA to allow states such as Maryland to continue to adopt their own vehicle emissions standards under a provision of the federal Clean Air Act.

The current emissions standards were established through a technical analysis by the federal government, states, and the automotive industry, which supported the standards when adopted in 2012. The current standards are designed to offer manufacturers the flexibility to build vehicles to meet consumer demand while still meeting environmental standards.

The greenhouse gas reductions that would come from the emissions standards are necessary for Maryland to meet its requirement under state law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. Transportation accounts for about a third of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Maryland is a leading member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and is part of the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance, which also has stated its opposition to EPA’s decision.

Any weakening of vehicle emissions standards would also increase pollutants such as ground-level ozone and lead to adverse public health and environmental effects. Under Governor Hogan’s leadership, Maryland adopted regulations to reduce pollution from the state’s coal fired power plants. Maryland is also suing the EPA to require the agency to take action to reduce emissions from power plants in upwind states that pollute Maryland’s air.

Maryland adopted the California Clean Cars Program in 2007. Governor Hogan’s environmental agenda for the 2017 legislative session included introduction of the Clean Cars Act of 2017. That legislation, which passed and was signed into law by the governor, extends and increases incentives for buying plug-in electric vehicles and providing the supporting infrastructure.

Additionally, any weakening of vehicle emissions standards will have an economic impact on consumers by costing them more at the pump. Reducing emissions standards means increasing the amount of fuel consumers will need to purchase.

SOURCE: United States Climate Alliance

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