As you may know, Canada has reached a tentative agreement with the car companies that would require the companies to sell cars in Canada that emit fewer greenhouse gases. The auto industry are resisted similar action by the U.S. government.
Now, a Mass. State lawmaker – Jim Marzilli -- has written to Canada’s prime minister to applaud the effort and to note that Americans may soon be heading to Canada to buy cars as they often do with medicines. See his letter below.
It’s a plausible scenario. As you probably know, the car companies are suing and taking other steps to try to block the development of lower-emitting cars in the U.S. And this could end up in Congress’ lap before the year is out.
The National Academy of Sciences is studying the issue of permitting states to adopt standards that are better than U.S. standards. And the academy has a hearing on the issue scheduled to take place in Boston on April 14.
Right now, California is permitted to adopt better standards, and states are free to adopt the California standards. But the car companies have testified that they would like to eliminate the right of states to adopt the California standards – and the car companies have gone to court to kill the California standards themselves. We are concerned that they will soon try to get the U.S. Congress to kill the right of states to require cleaner cars.
Should that happen, the only alternative for U.S. consumers would be to vote with their feet – to come to Canada for cleaner cars.
March 30, 2005
Hon. Paul Martin
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Re: Cleaner Climate Cars in Canada
Dear Prime Minister Martin and Canadian Parliamentarians:
In recent days, Canadian and U.S. news media have reported on the apparently successful negotiations between the Canadian government and the Canadian automobile manufacturing industry concerning the production of 25% more fuel-efficient, higher technology vehicles to help Canada meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
Regulations for similarly low-emitting vehicles have been adopted in California, and seven Northeastern states are in the process of echoing California's lead in requiring these cleaner climate cars. With the addition of Canada, fully one-third of the North American auto market would thus have to meet California's tough emissions standards.
Regrettably, the automakers have chosen to sue over California's regulations, putting this significant environmental achievement at risk. In this context, Canada's leadership is all the more vital. Ironically for the U.S., such litigation may also create a significant market opportunity for Canada: just as Americans have crossed the Canadian border in droves in recent years to buy cheaper medicines, the many Americans concerned about climate change may soon find themselves crossing the border to buy cleaner cars. Canadian auto manufacturers may also find greater export opportunity to clean car buyers elsewhere in the U.S. who cannot travel north as readily as those of us in the Northeast.
I understand that the battle for cleaner climate cars in Canada is not yet over, but I commend your efforts and urge you to stand fast in modernizing the fuel efficiency and technology of your portion of the North American vehicle fleet - as you also reserve the right to reduce greenhouse emissions from other sectors. I have sent a letter to my colleagues in the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requesting their support of this letter. Citizens in both our countries desire and deserve the right to choose the cleaner, more efficient cars of the future, to have less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and to purchase those cars near where they live.
By standing your ground, Canada can prove that the cleaner cars of the future can indeed be built - starting today.
Rep. James Marzilli
Representative Jim Marzilli
Vice-Chairman, Committee on Health Care Financing
C0-Chairman, Energy and Environment Committee, Council of State Governments
State House Room 236
Boston, MA 02133