Year
2002

California governor signs new auto emissions legislation

On July 22, 2002, over the strenuous opposition of the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the auto industry, Governor Gray Davis of California signs a stringent law regulating emissions from automobiles.

The U.S. Congress passed the first national fuel economy standards, known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, in 1975, in the wake of the 1973 oil embargo.

The standards sought to control emissions of so-called “greenhouse gases” (such as carbon dioxide) from cars and light trucks that contribute to global warming, or the gradual increase in the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. Automakers have historically resisted increases in these standards, as stricter standards usually require an overhaul of their production methods to make cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

California–which represents 10 percent of the nation’s automobile market and is known for its struggles with air pollution–took the lead early in setting stricter fuel emissions standards than the federal government’s. Assembly Bill (AB) 1493, which Davis signed into law in July 2002, was the first law in the nation to address the greenhouse gases emitted in automobile exhaust. The law required the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to regulate greenhouse gases under the state’s motor vehicle program and gave automakers until the 2009 model year to produce cars and light trucks that would collectively emit 22 percent fewer greenhouse gases by 2012 and 30 percent fewer by 2016.

Despite his well-documented enthusiasm for the Hummer, a sport-utility-vehicle (SUV) known for its prodigious size (and prodigious emission of greenhouse gases), Davis’ Republican successor, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, sought to uphold AB 1493 against continuous challenges from the auto industry and the presidential administration of George W. Bush. Democrat Barack Obama’s election as president in 2008 turned the tide in California’s favor: In January 2009, Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse an earlier decision and give California (by then joined by 13 other states) the right to adopt tougher auto emissions standards. That May, Obama announced plans to bring the entire nation up to California’s proposed standard, which would make cars nationwide roughly 30 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Jessica Lynch gets hero’s welcome

On this day in 2003, U.S. Army Private Jessica Lynch, a prisoner-of-war who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital, receives a hero’s welcome when she returns to her hometown of Palestine, West Virginia. The story of the 19-year-old supply clerk, who was captured by Iraqi forces in ...read more

The Preparedness Day bombing

In San Francisco, a bomb at a Preparedness Day parade on Market Street kills 10 people and wounds 40. The bomb was hidden in a suitcase. The parade was organized by the city’s Chamber of Commerce in support of America’s possible entrance into World War I. San Francisco was ...read more

Qusay and Uday Hussein killed

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s sons, Qusay and Uday Hussein, are killed after a three-hour firefight with U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. It is widely believed that the two men were even more cruel and ruthless than their notorious father, and their death ...read more

Dillinger gunned down

Outside Chicago’s Biograph Theatre, notorious criminal John Dillinger–America’s “Public Enemy No. 1″–is killed in a hail of bullets fired by federal agents. In a fiery bank-robbing career that lasted just over a year, Dillinger and his associates robbed 11 banks for more than ...read more

North Vietnamese condemn Honolulu Conference

Nguyen Thanh Le, North Vietnamese spokesman at the Paris peace talks, tells reporters that the Honolulu conference reveals that “the position of the United States remains infinitely obstinate.” According to the North Vietnamese, the war would continue as long as the United States ...read more

Greg LeMond wins second Tour De France

On this day in 1990, American Greg LeMond, riding for Team Z, wins his third Tour de France after leading the majority of the race. It was LeMond’s second consecutive Tour de France victory. LeMond was born on June 26, 1961, in Lakeland, California. He established himself early ...read more

Kaskaskia is inundated by flood of ’93

On this day in 1993, the levee holding back the flooding Mississippi River at Kaskaskia, Illinois, ruptures, forcing the town’s people to flee on barges. The Mississippi flood of 1993 caused $18 billion in damages and killed 52 people. From June through August 1993, the ...read more

Battle of Atlanta continues

Confederate General John Bell Hood continues to try to drive General William T. Sherman from the outskirts of Atlanta when he attacks the Yankees on Bald Hill. The attack failed, and Sherman tightened his hold on Atlanta. Confederate President Jefferson Davis had appointed Hood ...read more