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President Obama will announce tough new nationwide rules for automobile emissions and mileage standards on Tuesday, embracing standards that California has sought to enact for years over the objections of the auto industry and the Bush administration.

The rules, which will begin to take effect in 2012, will put in place a federal standard for fuel efficiency that is as tough as the California program, while imposing the first-ever limits on climate-altering gases from cars and trucks.

The effect will be a single new national standard that will create a car and light truck fleet in the United States that is almost 40 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016 than it is today, with an average of 35.5 miles per gallon.

Environmental advocates and industry officials welcomed the new program, but for different reasons. Environmentalists called it a long-overdue tightening of emissions and fuel economy standards after decades of government delay and industry opposition. Auto industry officials said it would provide the single national efficiency standard they have long desired, a reasonable timetable to meet it and the certainty they need to proceed with product development plans.

Yet the industry position represents an abrupt about-face after years of battling tougher mileage standards in the courts and in Congress, reflecting the change in the political climate and the automakers’ shaky financial condition. The decision comes as General Motors and Chrysler are receiving billions of dollars in federal help, closing hundreds of dealerships and trying to design the products and business strategy they will need to survive.

“For seven long years, there has been a debate over whether states or the federal government should regulate autos,” said Dave McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, the industry’s largest trade association. “President Obama’s announcement ends that old debate by starting a federal rulemaking to set a national program.”

source: www.nytimes.com
Nick: JirkaPraha, 27.5.2009 10:05:22
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