The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution today to endorse provisions contained in federal energy bills that would help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the region. The vote means the Board will encourage federal action on four specific measures supported by COG's Climate Change Steering Committee, one of the nation's first regional bodies to address climate change locally.
The Board took action after agreeing that the level of greenhouse gas emissions produced in metropolitan Washington is likely to be greatly impacted by proposed federal energy legislation.
"While COG member governments are committed to doing everything they can at the local level, the region needs the federal government and the Congress in particular to help us reduce emissions," said Roger Berliner, Climate Change Steering Committee member and Montgomery County Council Member.
Among the provisions the Board supports is a Senate proposal to strengthen Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFÉ) by requiring fuel efficiency of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for cars, SUVs, and light trucks sold in the U.S. The measure would be the first in more than two decades to strengthen the CAFÉ standards, and stands to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in metropolitan Washington. Current studies by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board show emissions from motor vehicles are forecast to increase 48 percent between 2002 and 2030. The proposed Senate CAFÉ standard would reduce that number to 16 percent.
"While all of provisions the COG Board endorsed today are very important, no single act would be more significant than increasing auto fuel economy standards as quickly as possible," Berliner said. "Business as usual in our region shows that emissions are going to increase by 35 percent by 2030, when science tells us we need to decrease global emissions by as much as 80 percent."
Other measures supported by the Board include:
- Energy Efficiency Block Grants, a new source of funding for local governments to cover an array of tasks related to energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction. COG recommends making these grants available to small units of local government, and consortia of local governments;
- Renewable Portfolio Standards, which would require private utilities to generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources;
- Green Collar Jobs and Workforce Development program that would provide grants for energy-related training programs.
- Overall Energy Efficiency Provisions and Standards