By Jeremiah Baumann of Portland, Oregon. Jeremiah is a clean energy advocate for OSPIRG.
After a 1,000+ mile road trip around Oregon to hearings in Medford, Bend, and Pendleton, I can tell you that this is an idea that's got support in every area of the state. A total of more than 100 people showed up to the hearings and all but four spoke in favor of the program, even though the Oregon Auto Dealers Association has encouraged auto dealers to weigh in (and disguise the fact that they're auto dealers).
And the supporters were passionate: a crowd of more than 60 in Medford hissed when Rep. Gordon Anderson (Grants Pass) spoke against Clean Cars and questioned the science behind global warming.
The outpouring of support makes sense for a proposal that benefits all of us. The Clean Cars program will force Detroit to cut global warming pollution from new cars and trucks by 30%.
Global warming threatens every region of our state. Declining snowpack ' already down 50% in the last 50 years ' threatens farmers' irrigation, salmon migration, and outdoor recreation. Higher temperatures could mean worse air quality for residents of the Rogue Valley who have struggled with air pollution for years.
Critics have said Oregon is too small to make a difference in the fight against global warming. Not true. If we adopt the Clean Cars program, it will trigger the same program in Washington. We'll have the whole West Coast participating and a total of 10 states on both coasts. OSPIRG released a study a few weeks ago showing that the combined pollution cuts from these 10 states represents more global warming pollution than the total national emissions of 140 countries.
And cutting global warming pollution will result in cars and trucks that go farther on a gallon of gas. That means energy independence and savings at the pump. Cleaner cars and trucks will actually save more money on gas than the slight increase in the up-front cost ' a net savings of $8 million for Oregonians when the program is fully implemented. $40 million once loans on new cars are paid off. The Clean Cars program flies in the face of the stale myth that we have to choose between protecting the environment and growing the economy.
The most shocking thing about the Clean Cars program is that some Oregon lawmakers are suing the state trying to block the program. I hope there's a huge crowd at the Portland hearing tonight to tell elected officials at all levels that Oregonians are ready for Clean Cars. The hearing is at 7 p.m. at DEQ headquarters, 811 SW 6th. Click here to let OSPIRG know if you can be there.