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Audubon: Time Running Out to Get Clean Car Standards on the Road

April 17, 2009

If you wanted to buy a fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly car in Florida, your options would be limited, compared to other states. Vehicles capable of driving as many as 50 miles on a gallon of gasoline, with improved pollution controls, are available in California and about a dozen states that have adopted clean car standards. But, they aren’t available here.

Eric Draper, policy director of Audubon Florida, says a recent Audubon poll found 71 percent of Florida voters believe the state should require manufacturers to sell cars that emit fewer greenhouse gases. Manufacturers are waiting on the legislature and time is running out, according to Draper.

"There are a number of cars you can’t buy here in Florida because we do not have the clean car standards. We feel the legislature is holding the clean car standards hostage and keeping Floridians from having the cars that they want."

Those standards, which are before the legislature, would follow the governor’s lead in providing savings for Floridians now and in the future, adds Draper.

"People will be able to save money at the pump, but more importantly it would save Florida’s environment, because we are very much at risk of sea level rise, more severe weather conditions, droughts, and storms as a result of global warming."

In addition to scientifically proven links between greenhouse gas emissions and the threat of climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce a finding these emissions also cause health problems like asthma and other respiratory ailments, according to Draper.

"If we want to prevent the harm to ourselves, and we want to prevent the harm to the environment, then we should start right now reducing greenhouse gases, reducing carbon dioxide, and the easiest way to do it is to drive cleaner cars."

Automakers say increasing pollution controls and fuel efficiency would increase cars' sticker price, and they don’t think the market could bear additional costs, particularly during the soft economy. Audubon argues Floridians deserve a choice and Gov. Crist agrees - having signed an executive order two years ago to adopt clean car standards that was supported by the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission.

For more information about the survey is available at www.climateflorida.org.

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL