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For Immediate Release, February 24, 2011

Contact: Matt Vespa, (415) 632-5309, office; (415) 310-1549, cell; or

Report: Nation's Best Pollution Law Should Combat Global Warming

Despite Attacks in Congress, EPA Must Harness Full Power of Clean Air Act to Cut Greenhouse Pollution

SAN FRANCISCO— A report released by the Center for Biological Diversity today clearly shows that the Clean Air Act needs to be harnessed to its fullest extent — not weakened — in order to significantly address climate change and stave off floods, fires, water shortages, species extinctions and other catastrophic effects of this global crisis. The report, titled The Clean Air Act Works, highlights the Clean Air Act’s 40-year track record of achieving comprehensive and cost-effective reductions in air pollution and details additional action the Environmental Protection Agency must take to achieve necessary greenhouse gas pollution reductions.

“Climate change is already happening, and unless we act quickly and decisively to ensure that global carbon pollution peaks in 2015 and drops rapidly thereafter, we will likely be committed to serious and irreversible consequences,” reads the report. “Used to its fullest potential, the Clean Air Act can play a significant role in achieving the deep cuts in carbon pollution needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

The Clean Air Act is under intense assault from polluters and their allies in Congress, who recently voted to strip funding from EPA to reduce carbon pollution on the unsupported grounds that measures to reduce greenhouse gases would hurt the economy. Yet, as demonstrated in The Clean Air Act Works, current attacks on the Act simply repeat the same disproven assertions used against the Clean Air Act for decades.

In fact, according to the report, “[s]tudy after study has found that a shift to a clean-energy economy creates new jobs, that upfront costs of environmental compliance are not responsible for decisions to relocate operations outside the United States, and that the estimated costs of compliance with new environmental protections are routinely overstated.”

Although the EPA has now begun to use the Clean Air Act’s powerful tools to control carbon pollution from mobile sources like cars and trucks as well as stationary sources like oil refineries and power plants, these actions have been too slow and too tentative in light of current science. New proposed regulations fall far short of what is technologically feasible and, despite the immediate need to reduce emissions, implementation is frequently delayed for years.

“The Clean Air Act is the single-most important existing law for this nation to reduce carbon pollution and keep the worst effects of climate change at bay,” said Matt Vespa, senior attorney at the Center’s Climate Law Institute. “It is not enough to simply parry the most far-reaching attacks against the Clean Air Act. EPA must end its heel-dragging and maximize use of the Clean Air Act’s proven tools to reduce carbon pollution.”

As the report explains, EPA can and must move quickly to:

  • Significantly increase future fuel-economy emissions standards for cars and trucks and proposed standards for heavy-duty vehicles;
  • Control emissions from other mobile sources like ships and airplanes;
  • Adopt stringent performance standards for carbon pollution from industrial facilities like oil refineries and boilers under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Performance Standards program;
  • Extend the Act’s new source permitting programs to a greater number of sources and in a manner that achieves significant pollution reductions; and
  • Set a science-based cap on greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

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