In a recent speech to the state Environmental Quality Commission (EQC), Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski called upon the EQC to create a strategic plan for the state Department of Environmental Quality to follow in developing and expanding existing programs to fight global warming and improve air quality.
Noting warnings by regional scientists and economists that climate change poses a real threat to Oregon’s economy and quality of life, the Governor reaffirmed his support for new regulations reducing CO2 emissions from new vehicles. (The California CO2 regulations.)
The threat of global warming is real—not idle speculation.—Gov. Kulongoski
Based on the recommendations of his Advisory Council on Global Warming, the governor last spring announced greenhouse gas reduction goals for Oregon of 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 75% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Regulating and reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles is an important component towards achieving that goal, according to the Governor.
As you know, carbon dioxide accounts for the lion’s share of our greenhouse gases—and transportation alone accounts for nearly 40 percent of total carbon emissions in Oregon.
Looking at the largest sources of carbon emissions, and the most effective ways to reduce those emissions, my Advisory Group recommended that we adopt stricter vehicle emissions standards—and I hope that you share my commitment to moving forward on this critical part of our strategy to curb global warming and improve air quality.
It is projected that if we adopt stricter emissions standards for cars and small trucks beginning with model year 2009, we can reduce carbon emissions by 13–18 percent over the next 15 years and up to 30 percent over the next 25 years. Whereas if we do nothing, our trend of increasing emissions will continue at approximately 1.6 percent per year.
Beyond the reduction in carbon emissions, stricter standards will help provide the benefits of better fuel efficiency and longer lasting emission systems in our cars—in addition to cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. And contrary to what opponents say, consumer choice will be expanded not diminished.
Furthermore, adopting new standards will also help us create new economic opportunities. Oregon already has one of the highest per capita uses of hybrids in the country and a small niche of electric car manufacturers. New standards would increase demand for these advanced technology cars, which in turn would attract and support emerging new industries in the fields of technology and innovation.
The Governor also called for expanding two existing programs to improve air quality in Oregon: the Air Toxics Program and the Oregon Clean Diesel Initiative. He highlighted the role of biodiesel and declared his intention to further support the growth of that industry.
The Governor charged the EQC to focus on three areas:
To create a strategic plan for the Department of Environmental Quality to develop and expand existing programs to combat global warming and improve air quality.
To revisit the report by the Advisory Group on Global Warming and identify actions that can be implemented to complement the actions being taken already in the areas of: waste management; landfill methane capture; targeted carbon reduction; and renewable energy.
To build on the Air Toxics Program and Clean Diesel Initiatives while also exploring the effectiveness of voluntary incentive-based programs that either: target the emissions of particular air pollutants, encourage the use of renewable energy, or even target specific regions of the state.