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White House ties new gas mileage standards to global warming

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“Keeping President Obama’s promise, today’s proposed clean car rule is the biggest single step the US has taken to curb global warming and our oil addiction,” says Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign at the Center for Auto Safety in Washington. “It demonstrates to the world that the United States is now confronting the threat of global warming.”

But automakers, too, sounded a positive note.

“This historic joint rule-making proposal released today by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration creates a coordinated national approach for increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gases and prevents competing regulations at the state and federal level,” said Dave McCurdy, president of the Auto Alliance, a trade association of eleven car and truck manufacturers.

New rule patterns California's tough standard

The new rule effectively brings US auto emissions limits into line with California’s tough air pollution requirements, resolving a dispute over whether California could go its own way. That led to a Bush administration decision last year that limited the state’s ability to regulate auto emissions, but has been now reversed. The Obama administration now has one overall standard for the US rather than three -- one for the EPA, the Department of Transportation, and states.

After a 60-day public comment period, EPA and DOT will be required to finalize the new standards by the end of March. Mr. Becker warns that the “devil was in the details” and that the rule must not be riddled with loopholes and exceptions.

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