Obama Pushing for California Emission Policy
President Barack Obama began reversing the climate policies of the Bush administration on Monday, clearing the way for new rules to force automakers to produce more fuel-efficient and less polluting cars.
Reuters reported that the president told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider immediately a request by California to impose its own strict limits on vehicle carbon dioxide emissions, blamed for contributing to global warming.
"The federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Obama said at the White House, taking a stab at his predecessor's policies. The Bush administration had denied the California request, prompting the state and other states to sue.
"California has shown bold and bipartisan leadership through its effort to 21st century standards. And over a dozen states have followed its lead," Obama said.
Obama's directive, which is likely to result in a formal change in coming months, could prompt as many as 18 states to follow California's lead by putting into effect tailpipe emissions standards that are tougher than federal requirements.
The president directed the Department of Transportation to move forward with setting vehicle fuel efficiency standards for model year 2011 by March, giving automakers an 18-month period to prepare.
The rules piled pressure on an ailing car industry struggling to survive in a deepening recession with the help of federal bailouts.
General Motors Corp said it is "working aggressively" to develop better hybrids and electric cars to reduce emissions and improve mileage, but policymakers must weigh in economic factors when making their decision.
"We're ready to engage the Obama administration and Congress on policies that support meaningful and workable solutions and targets," the company said in a statement.