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Obama Zeroes In on Auto Industry

President Barack Obama called for tougher regulations on auto emissions on Monday, promising not to let a sour economy stand in the way of progress. “I want to be clear from the beginning of this administration that we have made our choice: America will not be held hostage to dwindling resources, hostile regimes and a warming planet,” he said during a meeting with environmentalists in the White House’s East Room.


AP via Google News:

President Barack Obama opened an ambitious, double-barreled assault on global warming and U.S. energy woes Monday, moving quickly toward rules requiring cleaner-running cars that guzzle less gas — a must, he said, for “our security, our economy and our planet.”

He also vowed to succeed where a long line of predecessors had failed in slowing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Starting his second week in office, Obama took a major step toward allowing California and other states to target greenhouse gases through more stringent auto emission standards, and he ordered new federal rules directing automakers to start making more fuel-efficient cars as required by law.

The auto industry responded warily. Reducing planet-warming emissions is a great idea, carmakers and dealers said, but they expressed deep concern about costly regulations and conflicting state and federal rules at a time when people already are not buying cars. U.S. auto sales plunged 18 percent in 2008.

And industry analysts said the changes could cost consumers thousands of dollars — for smaller, “greener” cars.

Obama on Monday directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review whether California and more than a dozen states should be allowed to impose tougher auto emission standards on carmakers to fight greenhouse gas emissions. The Bush administration had blocked the efforts by the states, which account for about half of the nation’s auto sales.

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