Wednesday, January 21, 2009

California asks U.S. to back-up on car emissions

California officials expect new President Barack Obama to help them restore the state's strict auto emissions standards overruled by the Bush administration in 2007. The state's top climate official said Wednesday that the Obama administration would allow California to impose tougher limits on emissions than the federal government, according to the Reuters international news service. At least 12 states are expected to follow California and adopt the tougher standards, Reuters said. California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols asked new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson to reverse the 2007 decision and allow the stricter rules, which would require a 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2016. The new rules also would require automakers to use more-reflective paint, smoother-rolling tires and more-efficient air-conditioning units to boost efficiency. California has the right to set its own standards under the Clean Air Act, but needs federal approval to do so. "If the California waiver is granted, states that represent over half the population of the United States and an even larger part of the market for new cars will be committing themselves to require the auto manufacturers to produce and sell vehicles that are 30 percent cleaner," Nichols said. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has also asked the federal government to approve the waiver. Automakers warn the stricter rules would substantially increase car prices, but Nichols said they only would add about $100 to the price of a car.

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