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For Immediate Release: January 24, 2007

Contact: Julie Teel, Center for Biological Diversity (619) 255-3443

Bush Global Warming Proposal Weaker Than Existing Law

Cynical State of the Union proposal is part of an ongoing effort
to weaken existing alternative fuel goals

In the State of the Union address last night, President Bush announced a goal to replace 20% of U.S. gasoline consumption with alternative fuels by 2017. While the address has been criticized for not setting hard targets and not addressing greenhouse gas emissions, its most glaring weakness has not yet been revealed: Bush’s proposal is weaker than current alternative fuel standards and would require reducing petroleum replacement goals set by Congress in 1992.

The Energy Policy Act of 1992 was signed into law by George Bush Sr. in response to energy concerns highlighted by the first Gulf War. It required a replacement of 10% of the U.S. petroleum motor-fuel consumption with alternative fuels by the year 2000 and 30% by 2010. To attain this goal, the law first required a replacement of 75% of federally owned vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles by 1999 in the hopes this would jumpstart an alternative fuels market capable of reaching the national goals. The Department of Energy was required to monitor alternative fuel use and determine whether meeting the goals would also require alternative fuel vehicle purchasing requirements for municipal and corporate fleets.  If so, the Department was required to institute municipal and corporate alternative fuel vehicle requirements.

The federal government violated the Energy Policy Act by not converting its own fleets to alternative fuel vehicles and not establishing a municipal and corporate standard when it was clear that federal action alone was insufficient. The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth sued over these violations, winning one court order in 2002 and two more in 2006 requiring compliance with both aspects of the law.

In response, the federal government has increased the number of fuel efficient vehicles in its fleets. However, it has continued to refuse to set an alternative fuel vehicle requirement for municipal and corporate fleets. Instead, it proposed on September 7, 2006 to weaken the national standards by moving the compliance date for a 30% reduction in U.S. petroleum-fuel consumption from 2010 to 2030. That proposal has not yet been finalized and has been vigorously opposed by environmental groups.

“President Bush’s State of the Union proposal is not a policy advance, it’s a retreat. It would weaken existing government targets for alternatives to petroleum fuel, not improve them,” said Julie Teel, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate, Air, Energy Program. “It is smoke and mirrors from an administration that has denied the reality and the impacts of global warming from day one. This shameful ploy proves that Bush still doesn’t understand the dire consequences of global warming. The time for political games and pandering to opponents of meaningful alternative fuel requirements and greenhouse gas emissions caps is over. Climate science shows that emissions must be reduced by 80% or more in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Reducing gasoline use is part of the solution, but to safeguard our children's future, we need rapid progress toward that goal, not a delay of twenty years."

Information on the Energy Policy Act and the Bush Administration’s refusal to implement it:

Information on the Bush Administration's proposal to delay of Energy Policy Act goals by 20 years:

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