Obama begins reversing Bush climate policies
President Barack Obama began reversing the climate
policies of the Bush administration on Monday, clearing the way
for new rules to force auto makers to produce more fuel-efficient
and less polluting cars.
The president told the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider
immediately a request by California to impose its own strict limits
on vehicle carbon dioxide emissions, blamed for contributing to
Obama, a Democrat, took over from former President George W. Bush
last Tuesday. Bush's Republican administration had denied the request,
prompting California and other states to sue.
"The federal government must work with, not against, states
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Obama said at the White
House, taking a stab at his predecessor's policies.
of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration
will not deny
facts, we will be guided by them. We cannot afford
to pass the buck ... onto the states."
Obama's directive, which is likely to result in a formal change
in the coming months, could prompt as many as 18 states to follow
California's lead by putting into effect tailpipe emissions standards
that are tougher than federal requirements.
The president also directed the Department of Transportation to
move forward with setting tighter fuel efficiency standards for
automobiles starting with model year 2011, giving manufacturers
18 months to prepare.
The rules piled pressure on an ailing car industry struggling
to survive in a deepening recession with the help of federal bailouts.
Corp said it is "working aggressively" to
develop better hybrids and electric cars to reduce emissions and
improve mileage, but policymakers must weigh in economic factors
when making their decision.
"We're ready to engage the Obama administration and Congress
on policies that support meaningful and workable solutions and
targets," the company said in a statement.
Their plight may worsen as the U.S. recession deepens. Economists
polled by Reuters in advance of Friday's Gross Domestic Product
report think GDP contracted at a 5.4 percent rate on an annualized
basis in the fourth quarter, which would be the worst performance
SIGNALS ON ENVIRONMENT
Obama's steps were likely to be well received in Europe, which
saw the United States under Bush as a roadblock to global action
on climate change and hopes for greater U.S. efforts to reduce
domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
It drew praise from environmentalists, who supported Obama's election,
but could annoy labor unions, another key constituency, whose members
are upset auto job losses.