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States are leading the way

Editorial for Sept. 20, 2007

We are fortunate to have some political leaders across this nation who are taking action to address global warming issues.

On Sept. 12, the governors of 13 states signed a letter that went to the CEOs of Chrysler, General Motors, Honda Motor Co., Ford Motor Co., Toyota, and Nissan North America Inc. The letter takes these six auto industry leaders to task for trying to block efforts to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.

"The impact of global warming presents a grave threat to public health, natural resources, and our economy," reads the letter, which went on to explain that individual states need to act due to the lack of interest currently being shown by the White House and the U.S. Congress.

"The public is demanding that states, in the absence of federal action, take real and meaningful steps to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Ensuring that our automobiles have a lower carbon footprint is an essential piece of our greenhouse gas reduction s

trategy," read an excerpt from the letter. "As governors committed to addressing the issue of climate change, we ask that you withdraw your legal challenges to clean vehicle standards and begin working with us to meet our joint obligations to begin reversing the threat of global warming."

The governors point out that focusing on innovations instead of litigation could have major benefits to the auto industry: For example, the Ford Escape hybrid was voted "North American Truck of the Year" in 2005.

We hope the executives receiving the message realize that these governors have it right. Rather than drag its collective heels, the auto industry needs to retool and engineer its products more creatively and responsibly.

It's reassuring that rather than sit around and wait for the White House and/or the Congress to take action, these governors are taking thoughtful and deliberate steps to make a difference, and they are all to be commended.

Several of these states -- with California taking the lead -- have already implemented their own "clean tailpipe" standards that is stronger than the federal government's standards. This legislation will serve to significantly reduce emissions in their states. In fact, laws recently passed by 11 states are projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars by about 74 million metric tons by the year 2020, and more states are likely to follow the leadership Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger of California has shown on this issue.

The list of governors who have signed onto this important letter is instructive in itself. One thing that jumps out immediately is that, in this effort, Republicans and Democrats are joining together for a common goal. Of the 13 governors who signed, four are Republicans and nine are Democrats.

Further, diverse regions of the United States are represented, from the Northeast (New York, Pennsylvania Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts); the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah); and the West Coast (Washington, California, and Oregon).

We're proud to see Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington stepping up and signing on to this wise effort. There is little that is more important than the health of the planet we live on.



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