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Obama gives California blessings to toughen fuel standards

January 26, 2009 | 10:02 am

California License Plate Advertises Biodiesel

President Obama signed an executive order this morning that overruled years of George W. Bush's resistance to environmental fuel standards. Asking the Environmental Protection Agency to revisit its earlier decision, Obama signaled to California and a dozen other states that they can now impose their own tough auto emission benchmarks with federal blessings. And he ordered the federal bureaucracy to get going on tougher fuel standards in time for the 2011 model year cars.

"We are at a crossroads," the new president said in fulfilling one of his core campaign promises. "We have the resources to change."

In his first formal event in the East Room of the White House, Obama went through a list of brand name companies -- from Microsoft to Home Depot -- that have recently announced layoffs. Tying the fate of the economy to the urgency of going green, Obama said:

For the sake of our security, our economy and our planet, we must have the courage and commitment to change. It will be the policy of my administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs.

This was all before noon in the East, before the first week of his presidency was in the books.

In short, Obama made it look easy to go green.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Getty Images

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