S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, April 29, 2007
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/07.0429.cars.htm

State should consider program to cut tailpipe emissions
By Andy Brack, Publisher

APRIL 27, 2007 - - Turn on the television or radio. Listen at the water cooler. Look at the hardware store's newspaper ads. The talk and public interest - seemingly everywhere - is green and environmental.

But in the South Carolina legislature, it's mostly just talk. Yes, there have been about a dozen "green" bills filed this year on everything from solar and wind tax credits to promoting energy independence through green public buildings, fleet management efforts, energy efficiency programs and more recycling. But they haven't become law.

So far, the only real environmental victory of the year has been the legislature's vote to keep its word on prohibiting most other state's low-level nuclear waste from a Barnwell low-level waste facility.

Missing from the environmental discussion in South Carolina is a focus about what can be done about cars and trucks, which contribute one-third of U.S. global warming gas emissions, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. With Americans driving more and more, trying to reduce what comes out of tailpipes will cut harmful greenhouse gases - - and provide myriad other positive benefits.

A great way to reduce gases is to boost efficiency of vehicles. Federal law, however, prevents states from directly regulating gas mileage. In short, the reason is it doesn't want a bunch of different standards to force car companies to make up to 50 different kinds of cars.

No Southern state has adopted the Clean Car program. South Carolina should be the first.

The federal government also regulates air quality through the Clean Air Act. But unlike the mileage issue, it provides states with an alternative if they want better air quality standards for vehicles. Instead of the federal automobile tailpipe emissions standards, states can adopt the "clean car" program developed in California which has tougher regulations on tailpipe emissions, but also provides for innovation.

By requiring car companies to produce vehicles with lower emissions and other improvements, this California policy alternative already has resulted in a decrease of smog-forming gases by 10 percent to 15 percent, analysts say. And because 11 other states have adopted the standards, they have created a new market of more environmentally-sensitive vehicles for carmakers.

The impact of this Clean Car program is dramatic. According to the US Public Interest Research Group, "By 2020 the Clean Cars Program will eliminate as much carbon dioxide annually as is produced by 17 coal-fired power plants generating enough power for 6 million US homes. At the same time, the standards could reduce gasoline consumption by as much as 7.2 billion gallons per year in 2020 - nearly as much as is consumed by all the vehicles in Florida in a year - and save consumers up to $16.7 billion annually at the pump in 2020."


We encourage your feedback. If you'd like to respond to something in SC Statehouse Report, please send us an e-mail. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. One submission allowed per month. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:


To date, no Southern state has adopted the Clean Car program. South Carolina should be the first. Here's why:

  • Saves money. Consumers realize major savings in states that have adopted the California standard. In early years of the alternative regulation, cars cost about $300 more, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. But as emissions reductions increase, reductions in gas usage will create savings of $1,000 or more. A North Carolina study commission on the program estimated that it saved $100 for every ton of global warming pollution taken out of the air.

  • Improves health. With less tailpipe pollution in the air, people's health improves. A federal estimate showed asthma and other lung problems dropped in states that have adopted the Clean Car program.

  • Reduces air toxics. Another study showed air toxics, such as benzene and formaldehyde in tailpipe emissions, may be reduced by as much as 25 percent through the program.

South Carolinians drive 17 percent more than the national average, according to the US Department of Transportation. If state lawmakers were to adopt the tougher California tailpipe emissions standard through the Clean Car program, South Carolinians eventually would own cars that polluted less and got better gas mileage, which should save them money in the long run.

The Clean Car program makes sense at the pocketbook level over time. But it also makes sense as a practical way to be greener and to lower our impact on this planet God gave us.

You can reach Andy Brack, publisher of SC Statehouse Report, at brack@statehousereport.com.

Recent commentary

lighter side
Gun culture

Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:

4/22: Enjoy seeing them while you can

To the editor:

The televised debate will be more for the benefit of a national audience, than a local one; therefore, Global Warming will also be addressed. As soon as the primary election is over, the Democratic candidates won't waste their time coming to this backward state.

-- Janie Behr, Florence, S.C.

Recent feedback

The best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more. Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less for business subscribers. More: SC Clips.

How you can subscribe to the full edition of the report

The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge. There's a new limited paid version for individuals that costs about $30 per month. More on subscribing.

Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."

In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get:

  • Hot news -- an early peek on something really big that will happen at the Statehouse. We continually beat other news organizations in finding major trends in issues, from teacher and budget cuts to wetlands proposals.
  • Agenda -- a weekly forecast of the coming week's floor agenda
  • Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes look at what's really going on in the General Assembly
  • Palmetto Politics -- Tidbits from the world of South Carolina politics.
  • McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected cartoonist Bill McLemore.
  • Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of all of the new bills introduced in the legislature in everyday language
  • Blogroll -- a weekly summary of the best of South Carolina political blogs.
  • Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major political/policy events for the week.
  • Calendar -- a weekly list of major meetings for the House, Senate and state agencies.
  • Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find illuminating.

To learn more about subscriptions, contact Andy Brack at: brack@statehousereport.com


South Carolina Statehouse Report

Publisher: Andy Brack
Editor: Bill Davis | Assistant Editor: Betsy Brack

Have an event for the SC Statehouse Report calendar? E-mail details to: news@statehousereport.com or fax to above number.

For additional information, including subscription prices, go to http://www.statehousereport.com/.

Just a quick note to let you know how you missed out this week. If you were a subscriber to the paid edition of Statehouse Report, you would have received the information below on Friday AND you would have gotten other special features:

  • NEWS: Skinning the tax cat
  • LEGISLATIVE AGENDA: Showdown in Senate?
  • RADAR SCREEN: Switching lanes
  • PALMETTO POLITICS: Campaign stash
  • TALLY SHEET: New bills from the Senate
  • KEEPING TRACK: Ahead on exemptions
  • BLOGROLL: Roundup of what's happening in blogs
  • SCORECARD: Ups and downs from the last week
  • MEGAPHONE: Mean signs

For more information, contact us today about our affordable paid subscriptions for businesses and organizations that need the inside scoop at the Statehouse.

Skinning the tax cat
From the paid-subscriber issue of Statehouse Report

APRIL 27, 2007 -- This week in the Statehouse proved that, unlike a cat, there is more than one way to skin a tax. Consider the contentious issue of increasing the state's per-pack cigarette tax from a national low of 7 cents per pack to 37 cents per pack.

  • If you subscribed to the full edition of Statehouse Report, you'd get more information on this and much more. Contact us today to learn more.

AVAILABLE NOW: Furman University's Don Gordon has great things to say about Andy Brack's new book of commentaries, "Bugging the Palmettos." Click here to learn more and buy the book -- only $15.00!

Visit Statehouse Report



  Copyright 2007, Statehouse Report LLC, which is affiliated with The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.
Reproduction is prohibited without express permission of the publisher. For additional information, including subscription prices, go to