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Statement of Lisa P. Jackson Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Legislative Hearing on Clean Energy Policies That Reduce Our Dependence on Oil/House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment

Release Date: 04/28/2010
Contact Information: EPA Press Office 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON - Chairmen Markey and Waxman, Ranking Members Upton and Barton, Chairman Emeritus Dingell, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to testify about the Environmental Protection Agency’s work to reduce America’s oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. That work stems from two seminal events.

First, in April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in Massachusetts v. EPA that the Clean Air Act’s definition of air pollution includes greenhouse gases. The Court rejected then-Administrator Johnson’s refusal to determine whether that pollution from motor vehicles endangers public health or welfare.

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, and based on the best available science and EPA’s review of thousands of public comments, I found in December 2009 that motor-vehicle greenhouse gas emissions do endanger Americans’ health and welfare.

I am not alone in reaching that conclusion. Scientists at the 13 federal agencies that make up the U.S. Global Change Research Program have reported that unchecked greenhouse gas emissions pose significant risks to the wellbeing of the American public. The National Academy of Sciences has stated that the climate is changing, that the changes are mainly caused by human interference with the atmosphere, and that those changes will transform the environmental conditions on Earth unless counter-measures are taken.

The second pivotal event was the agreement President Obama announced in May 2009 between EPA, the Department of Transportation, the nation’s automakers, America’s autoworkers, and the State of California to seek harmonized, nationwide limits on the fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of new cars and light trucks.

My endangerment finding in December satisfied the prerequisite in the Clean Air Act for establishing a greenhouse gas emissions standard for cars and light trucks of Model Years 2012 through 2016. So I was able to issue that final standard earlier this month, on the same day that Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood signed a final fuel efficiency standard for the same vehicles.

Using existing technologies, manufacturers can configure new cars and light trucks to satisfy both standards at the same time. And vehicles complying with the federal standards will automatically comply with the greenhouse gas emissions standard established by California and adopted by 13 other states. This harmonized and nationally uniform program achieves the goal the President announced last May.

Moreover, the EPA and DOT standards will reduce the lifetime oil use of the covered vehicles by more than 1.8 billion barrels. That will do away with more than a billion barrels of imported oil, assuming the current ratio of domestic production to imports does not improve. The standards also will eliminate more than 960 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution.

But if Congress now nullified EPA’s finding that greenhouse gas pollution endangers the American public, that action would remove the legal basis for a federal greenhouse gas emissions standard for motor vehicles. Eliminating the EPA standard would forfeit one quarter of the combined EPA-DOT program’s fuel savings and one third of its greenhouse gas emissions cuts. California and the other states that have adopted California’s greenhouse gas emissions standard would almost certainly respond by enforcing that standard within their jurisdictions, leaving the automobile industry without the nationwide uniformity that it has described as vital to its business.

I would like to mention one more action that EPA has taken to reduce America’s oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. In February, I signed a final renewable fuels standard. It substantially increases the volume of renewable products – including cellulosic bio-fuel – that refiners must blend into transportation fuel. EPA will implement the standard fully by the end of 2022. In that year alone, the standard will decrease America’s oil imports by 41 and a half billion dollars. And U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that year will be 138 million metric tons lower thanks to the standard.

EPA’s recent work on vehicles and fuels shows that enhancing America’s energy security and reducing America’s greenhouse gas pollution are two sides of the same coin.