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California Cleans Up

Trendy but smoggy California keeps zooming into the future, this time toward cleaner fuel-burning, more-efficient vehicles. The state Senate passed a bill (already passed by the state Assembly in January) that would put a lid on the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses that cars and SUVs can emit.

If Gov. Gray Davis signs the bill, it would be the first of its kind in the US, and could become a national standard, helping to boost gas mileage. Congress recently failed to approve tougher fuel efficiency.

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A legal challenge to California's move is likely on grounds that the nation needs one fuel-efficiency standard. Fair enough, unless the courts recognize that states with high pollution and car use like California need help. Other states considering similar laws need to watch that they don't create a confusing array of standards.

Even so, their actions might jump-start Washington into action.