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Ruskin Introduces Clean Car Discount Act to Fight Global Warming

April 17, 2007

Sacramento, Calif. – California Assembly member Ira Ruskin (D-Redwood City) introduced “The Clean Car Discount Act of 2007” (AB 493) to reduce harmful global warming and smog-forming pollution from cars and trucks by establishing an innovative program to make cleaner cars and trucks more affordable. This program is a market-based solution that will provide one time rebates on purchases of new vehicles that are cleaner. The rebates are funded by one-time surcharges on new vehicles with higher emissions of global warming pollution. AB 493 is sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and strongly supported by major environmental and consumer groups.

The program will have compounding benefits: incentives to consumers will increase demand for low polluting cars; which, in turn, will spur manufacturers to produce more of them.

“Since transportation accounts for over 40 percent of global warming emissions in this state, we need effective tools to avert the worst consequences of climate change now,” Ruskin stated. “California has established itself as a leader on greenhouse gas reduction with the passage of AB 32 (The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006), yet, we cannot meet AB 32’s global warming mandate without addressing emissions from the vehicles we drive.”

Over the years, the automobile industry has repeatedly resisted safety measures and pollution reductions that consumers want — including seat belts, airbags and emissions controls. Nevertheless, this year, consumer groups have joined public health advocates and environmentalists in support of the Clean Car Discount program, citing preservation of consumer choice as a top reason.

The Clean Car Discount program is designed to ensure choice by providing that some vehicles of every type will be unaffected or receive a rebate. Over 40 percent of the 1.7 million new vehicles purchased in California each year will be eligible for a rebate, and another 20 percent will not be affected at all. Given the breadth of choice, the Clean Car Discount program will help make cleaner vehicles more affordable for every California family.

“The automakers have the technology — indeed are using it in some cars today — to make nearly every car and truck they produce eligible for a rebate,” said Dan Kalb, Policy Director for the UCS. “This legislation provides the catalyst they need to make clean cars that everyone can afford.”

Likely voters in California favor a program like AB 493 by a margin of 2-1, according to a poll by Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin & Associates.

“Global warming is an issue of paramount concern. Consumers are demanding that automakers provide cleaner car choices, and they see the Clean Car Discount as an effective market-based way to make that happen,” Ruskin concluded.

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