May 19, 2009

Kerry Says Strengthened Fuel Standards "Shot Heard Round the World" in Global Climate Battle

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, today praised the Obama administration for its plan to establish the first ever nationwide regulation for greenhouse gases. Obama also called for increasing fuel economy standards for new cars and light trucks and pushing up the timeline for implementing those standards.

"This will be a shot heard round the world in the battle against climate change and it will reverberate around the globe as we approach the climate meetings in Copenhagen. For eight years, we battled a White House that tried to stop states from doing what Washington refused to do, but now we have a President leading the effort to dramatically reduce emissions from one of the largest contributors to climate change and make more fuel efficient cars so consumers can travel further, cleaner, and cheaper on the same tank of gas."

Kerry worked with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in 2002 to fight for an increase in federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and was instrumental in the 2007 effort that resulted in the first significant increase in fuel efficiency standards in thirty years. Kerry has long advocated standards to reduce tailpipe emissions beginning with his work in 1990 with then Senator Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) to keep tailpipe emissions safeguards in the Clean Air Act. He also cosponsored legislation with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to grant California a waiver under the Clean Air Act to cut global warming pollution from motor vehicles.

Massachusetts was one of 13 states along with the District of Columbia pushing for limits on tailpipe emissions. The Obama administration's plan reflects the states' proposal by setting a federal tailpipe emissions standard of 250 grams per mile and accelerating the adoption of a 35.5 miles per gallon national fuel efficiency standard for cars and light trucks.

Today, Kerry will chair a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee titled, "Pathways to a ‘Green' Global Economic Recovery" on in 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building at 2:00 p.m. The hearing will explore the economic impact of climate change and the potential to improve the economies of both America and the world through the adoption of clean energy technologies.

The plan President Obama announced this afternoon will:

  • curb U.S. oil dependence by about 1.4 million barrels of oil per day by 2020, nearly as much as we currently import from Saudi Arabia;
  • cut heat-trapping emissions by 230 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020, equivalent to taking 34 million of today's cars and light trucks off the road that year;
  • deliver net savings to consumers of $30 billion in 2020, even after covering the cost of technology improvements, based on a gas price of $2.25 per gallon;
  • save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles by 900 million metric tons; and
  • deliver $70 billion in net savings in 2020 if gas prices spike to $4 per gallon again.