In one of his first actions concerning the environment, President Obama directed the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, to immediately reconsider the Bush administration's denial of California's request to implement its groundbreaking "Clean Cars Program." If California's request is approved, drivers in California and at least 13 other states would have greater opportunities to buy cleaner, more fuel efficient cars.
The California Clean Cars Program is the first in the nation to reduce global warming pollution from passenger vehicles. Passed by the California legislature in 2002, the law requires a 30 percent reduction in global warming pollution from new cars by 2016. Under federal law, however, California needs approval from the EPA to enforce its program, and in late 2007 the Bush administration denied California this approval.
Although we expect the Obama administration to reverse this decision, automakers and their allies are claiming -- just as they did with seat belts and air bags -- that they can't afford to comply with the new standards. Meanwhile, the automakers -- some of which are taking tens of billions of dollars in federal bailout loans -- are spending tens of millions of dollars suing California and other states to stop the program.
The EPA is accepting public comments through April 6th on whether to allow California to implement the Clean Cars Program.
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