In response to the February 6th White House event on energy independence and hydrogen fuel cells, Environmental Defense called for a real commitment from the administration to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and oil dependence on a clear timetable.
"Effective policy must combine a strong government mandate to control global warming pollution with flexible market-based policies," said Kevin Mills, director of the Environmental Defense Clean Car Campaign. "Properly guided, market forces will determine which technologies will most affordably accomplish the goal."
"America has an urgent need to reduce oil dependence and to decrease the greenhouse gas pollution contributing to global warming," said Mills. "A national commitment to cap greenhouse gas emissions within a certain timetable would do far more to stimulate progress on promising technologies, such as fuel cells, than boosting public spending on research and development."
Many cost-effective fuel saving technologies and design changes are already available to safely improve fuel economy by 5% per year over at least the next 10 years, cutting oil demand by 3.6 million barrels per day, more than the U.S. imports from the Mideast, and preventing 100 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution per year by 2020.
Several policy efforts designed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution are already underway, including a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators McCain and Lieberman to cut greenhouse gas pollution nationwide, and a new California law mandating reductions of greenhouse emissions from vehicles. The Bush Administration is also considering higher fuel economy standards for light trucks, but the proposed increases are too small to make a big difference in oil use and greenhouse gas emissions or to harness the potential of existing advanced technologies.
"In 1970, Congress mandated that cars had to be 50% cleaner within five years," said Mills. "The government didn't tell car companies how to accomplish this goal, they just said do it. The automotive industry developed the catalytic converter and met the standard in three years. The law forced the technology and America got cleaner cars and, more importantly, cleaner air. New technologies will remain underutilized without policies requiring automakers to improve their products for lower fuel consumption and reduced greenhouse gas pollution."
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