Climate Action Letter to President Obama

Letter signed by 97 businesses and organizations outlines recommendations for administrative actions to address climate change.

Published: 21-Jan-2009

January 21, 2009

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama:

We, the undersigned sustainable energy and environmental organizations, businesses, and individual advocates, are writing to urge that you undertake several administrative actions that can immediately begin to fulfill your earlier promises to aggressively confront the problem of global climate change.

These recommendations are not intended to be comprehensive. Clearly, there is much more that can - and must - be done to support improved energy efficiency in all sectors of the economy as well as to rapidly expand the use of renewable energy sources for electricity, transportation, heating and cooling, and other purposes. However, many of the necessary strategies for addressing climate change - as well as for reducing energy imports and creating “green” jobs - will need to be developed cooperatively with the U.S. Congress in the months ahead. The actions we are now proposing below are steps that can be taken administratively by you and the members of the Executive Branch in the first days of your Administration.

** Direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to initiate a rulemaking under the Clean Air Act declaring that carbon dioxide emissions are endangering public health. This effectively should lead to a national cap on global warming emissions consistent with what science says is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. The Supreme Court said in April 2007 the government has authority under current law to regulate carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas.

** Reverse the Bush Administration’s denial of a waiver for California of the Clean Cars Standard under the Clean Air Act and allow it to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles. California had asked the U.S. EPA for permission to reduce vehicle emissions by 30 percent by 2016, making its tailpipe regulations the toughest in the country and effectively mandating that cars achieve a fuel economy standard of at least 36 miles per gallon within eight years. Seventeen other states had promised to adopt California's rules, representing in total 45 percent of the nation's automobile market.

** Similarly, mandate that federal government fleets abide by fuel economy standards similar to those proposed by the State of California. This could encourage lawmakers to eventually extend that requirement to the entire nation.

** Direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to raise fuel economy standards for cars, light trucks and SUVs to at least 45 miles per gallon over the next decade and a half - and preferably to 50 mpg by 2020 and 200 mpg by 2050 as recommended by the Presidential Climate Action Plan. Likewise, direct the NHTSA to increase fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks by 50% within the next decade and a half.

** Direct that greenhouse gas emissions be considered whenever the federal government examines the environmental impact of its actions under the existing National Environmental Policy Act. Order every agency to consider global warming in its actions affecting energy use and managing natural resources and to develop a coordinated, interagency natural resources adaptation strategy.

** Create a national carbon registry, requiring mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases. Congress last year required the EPA to propose a rule that would cover major industrial plants, but the agency missed a key deadline and has not complied with the law. Now, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) operates a voluntary reporting program.

** Begin to make the federal government a carbon-neutral enterprise. As a first step, mandate that all new federal government buildings be carbon-neutral (e.g., designed to be zero-energy).

Again, we recognize that these recommendations are far from comprehensive but, cumulatively, they could have a significant impact and begin the process of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global climate change.

In the weeks and months ahead we look forward to opportunities to work with your Administration and the Members of the U.S. Congress to fashion further initiatives that will put the United States on the path to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.

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