Obama set to release pollution standards

May 18, 2009 7:07:37 PM PDT
On Tuesday, President Obama is expected to issue new environmental standards that will end a long-running dispute between California and the auto industry.

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For the first time, the new standards will put limits on the amount of greenhouse gases that cars and trucks can emit.

These are the standards the Bush administration opposed, that automakers said would be too big a burden, but California's governor has been pushing.

On the day that governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's ballot propositions are expected to go down in defeat, he will be in Washington D.C. getting at least some of the credit for new fuel efficiency and auto emission standards that President Obama is expected to announce.

"I think tomorrow you'll see people that normally at odds with each other in agreement with each other," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

The president's spokesman says car makers, environmental groups and governors like Schwarzenegger have been involved in talks over the standards that will increase average fuel efficiency for all vehicles from the current 27 miles per gallon to 35 mpg by 2016.

Autos, as opposed to trucks, will rise to 42 miles per gallon.

"For regular cars, we're talking about more than a fifty percent increase in fuel economy in the next eight years," said UC Berkeley Energy Institute Professor Severin Borenstein, Ph.D.

That's significant said Borenstein, and more significant are the reductions in green house gas emissions, which are expected to be reduced by 30 percent over the same time period.

"The real effect here is that we're going to finally take a stand that we are making a significant change in green house gas emissions from transportation," said Borenstein, Ph.D.

It will not fundamentally effect climate change but it sends a strong signal says Borenstein.

In Washington D.C., ABC7's Political Analyst Bruce Cain said the auto companies have a good reason to go along with the president's nationwide standards, and not just because of the federal bailout.

"What they're trying to do is make sure that the very difficult world the auto companies are in right now is not made more difficult, by the fact that you have 13 states that are threatening to have stricter standards than the other states," said Cain Ph.D.

Professor Cain says the president is consolidating regulations and time tables for both fuel efficiency and tail pipe emissions.

"And getting uniformity with respect to the states on these standards reduces a lot of uncertainty for them," said Cain, Ph.D.

The president does have a lot more clout with the auto companies. In the current economy going against his plan would seem a bit like arguing with the boss.

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