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Governor should move forward with climate group’s recommendations

At our current rate of construction, Arizona is building the equivalent of an entirely new city the size of Gilbert or Tempe every year. Each of these new homes brings people, and with those people come cars: sometimes one, sometimes two, sometimes more.
We are already feeling the negative effects of population growth including longer waits in traffic; a brown cloud more visibly and regularly over Phoenix; and increased smog days along with pleas to car pool and make other sacrifices to reduce air pollution.
Since automobiles are major contributors to smog and vehicle exhaust creates ground-level ozone (an air pollutant that aggravates some of the most common respiratory illnesses like asthma and lung disease) more cars on the road will increase the adverse public health impact.
A number of states have already adopted the Clean Cars Program, which establishes limits on pollution from automobiles and paves the way for the widespread introduction of technologies like hybrid-electric and fuel-cell vehicles, direct-injection engines, advanced transmissions, improved air conditioning systems, and other technologies with the potential to reduce pollution.
We know that automakers can make cars that are more efficient and release less pollution, while offering us the amenities and styles to which we are accustomed. Yet, automakers have filed lawsuits to block implementation of cleaner cars just as they resisted safety features such as airbags that have proven their worth and are now standard.
By establishing the Clean Cars Program, we can reduce our state’s air pollution, protect public health and save consumers money at the pump. Cleaner cars also save consumers money through better performance and lower operating costs. With Arizonans spending less at the gas pump, profits usually exported to foreign oil-producers can be kept in the local economy.
Tailpipe standards already adopted in 12 states, accounting for more than one-third of the U.S. auto market, would reduce global warming emissions by nearly 400 million metric tons by 2020 — a reduction level equivalent to taking 74 million of today’s cars off the road for an entire year, according to a recent report by the Arizona Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.
If Arizona and the five additional states that are considering the policy adopt the standards, the total global warming emission reductions would grow to 536 million metric tons by 2020, the equivalent to taking 101 million of today’s cars off the road for an entire year.
Governor Janet Napolitano’s Climate Change Advisory Group (CCAG), a diverse set of 35 stakeholders, for 18 months discussed a variety of policies that could reduce global warming pollution in Arizona. The Clean Cars Program emerged as one of the top policy options to reduce global warming pollution in Arizona and received a unanimous recommendation to the governor by the full CCAG. Governor Napolitano followed their recommendation by calling for the adoption and implementation of the Clean Cars Program.
The governor should be applauded for her efforts to put cleaner cars on Arizona’s roads. We urge her to move forward with the necessary next steps.
Dr. Raymond Graap is a member of the Arizona Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Copyright C 2007 by the Arizona Editorial Forum. The Forum is an educational organization that provides the media with the views of state experts on major public issues.

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