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Obama to Raise Fuel Efficiency Standards: Biggest Step Gov Has Taken to Fight CO2

It looks like the Waxman-Markey bill is not the alpha and the omega of energy policy -- this is big news, too.

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President Obama became personally involved in the issue because he is also trying to find a way to rescue the American automobile companies from their financial crisis….

Mr. Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency in January to reconsider the Bush administration’s past rejection of the California application. The president also instructed the Transportation Department to draw up rules to supplement a 2007 law requiring a 40 percent improvement in gas mileage for autos and light trucks by 2020.

The Bush administration failed to write any regulations to enforce the 2007 law.

Daniel J. Weiss, an environmental policy analyst at the liberal Center for American Progress, said that under the White House plan, California would retain the ability to set its own emissions standards in the future when the current program expires.

He also said that the new administration program was very close in language and intent to a provision in the climate change and energy bill now before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. That bill calls for a “harmonization” of the California and federal regulatory programs to provide a nationwide standard.

He said the standards were being written so that the car companies would already be on track to meet the standards set in the first few years of the program. The cars and trucks that will be sold in that period are already in the design phase. But starting in 2013 and 2014, the new rules will begin to bite, Mr. Weiss said.

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