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Jerry Brown declares Detroit ‘finally’ on board on air standards

July 29, 2011 | 11:30 am

Gov. Jerry Brown declared Friday that "the auto companies have finally come on board" in support of tough air pollution standards California has long pushed.

Brown made his comments in a conference call to reporters, where he praised the Obama administration's announcement that auto makers had agreed to double the fuel economy standards of vehicles sold in the United States to a fleet-wide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. "This marks a complete reversal from what we were facing just a few years ago when California was engaged in multiple lawsuits in different states with the major automobile companies about efficiency standards and greenhouse-gas regulation," Brown said.

Brown, who was repeatedly interrupted by his dog, Sutter, barking in the background during the call, called the accord between Detroit and the White House "a major thrust counter to the powerful 'tea party' conservative Republican ideology that wishes to strip away the role that government performs."

"The agreement today is about regulation," Brown said. "It's regulation that will advance the well- being of the country by encouraging technological innovation, the reduction of fuel consumption and the reduction of greenhouse gases that are being spewed into the environment."

California Air Resources Board chief Mary Nichols, who joined the call from Washington, D.C., said the announcement meant that California would accept the federal standards on greenhouse gases but would still pursue additional air-quality regulations on other emissions that are tougher than the national rules.

She said Friday's announcement was prompted by California's decade-long effort to pursue regulations on tailpipe emissions that were more stringent than those set in Washington. Under President George W. Bush, the Environmental Protection Agency barred California from setting its own rules. When President Obama took office in 2009, he issued an executive order allowing the California standards to be put back in place.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento