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Federal agencies to align with California on new clean car standards

January 24, 2011 |  2:33 pm

TRAFFIC
California and federal regulators will buddy-up when they release new clean car standards this fall, three state and national agencies said Monday.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation will coordinate with the California Air Resources Board when they simultaneously release proposed rules for vehicle fuel economy and carbon emissions on Sept. 1.

California has long been an early adopter of similar guidelines and is known for regulations that are often the strictest in the country. By agreeing to reschedule its announcement from the original March date, the state could be hoping to influence how the federal standards are developed, industry experts suggested.

“The vehicle manufacturers would certainly prefer a single national standard,” said John Boesel, chief executive of Calstart, a clean-transportation technology trade group based in Pasadena. “The California policymakers, if they agree to a single standard, would want to ensure it’s demanding enough to address the state's very serious air pollution challenges.”

A suggestion floated this fall from the Obama administration that new cars be required to reach 62 miles per gallon by 2025 met with backlash from the auto industry.

The EPA and the DOT had originally aimed for Sept. 30 to release their proposals, which will affect cars and light trucks in the 2017 to 2025 model years. The federal agencies say that the current standards for the 2012 to 2016 model years, adopted in April, will eventually save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and avert 960 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

A final set of rules will be approved by 2012. Automakers cheered the partnership between the agencies while urging them not to rush into any decisions about miles-per-gallon and emissions targets.

“The current process is still in the early stages, with much analysis needed on critical issues such as the costs of advanced vehicle technologies and potential impacts on vehicle safety and jobs," said Gloria Berquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in a statement.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Heavy rush hour traffic stands stationary on Interstate 10 in Los Angeles on Friday. Credit: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg

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