Carmakers get rolled in Senate clean car vote
The Senate Environmental Regulation Committee unanimously passed a bill to require Florida cars to meet tougher greenhouse gas emission standards beginning in 2011, steamrolling a lineup of opponents from the state's business and automobile lobbies.
But this committee may be the end of the line for the bill that Gov. Charlie Crist has said is one of his top priorities. The measure has six more stops in the Senate and has not gotten a single hearing in the House. "This committee sent a clear message,'' said chairman Sen. Lee Constantine, who sponsored the bill. "I can't any that anybody else will.''
Lobbyists for JM Family Enterprises, AutoNation, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Southeast Auto Dealers presented the same arguments that were unsuccessful when the issue came before the state Environmental Regulation Commission. The commission wrote the standards, which became the subject of the bill offered by Constantine.
"The Obama administration is moving at what I call federal warp speed to have the first set of standards,'' said Wade Hopping of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. He said lawmakers should wait until there is a national standard because until there is, the state must rely on California's greenhouse gas emission standards. "You shouldn't give away your authority to another state.''
DEP Secretary Mike Sole said that while there may be added cost to car buyers for the environmentally cleaner cars -- about $100 to $700 over the life of a car -- the bill ultimately saves consumers money with higher fuel efficiency. The estimated savings over the life of a car is $2,300, he said.