New Federal Fuel-Efficiency Rules Limit State Input A little-noticed provision in new federal fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks makes it much harder for states to set their own levels for how many miles per gallon vehicles should achieve.
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New Federal Fuel-Efficiency Rules Limit State Input

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New Federal Fuel-Efficiency Rules Limit State Input

New Federal Fuel-Efficiency Rules Limit State Input

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News, I'm Michele Norris.

SUV: NPR's Elizabeth Shogren is with us now, and Elizabeth, what are these state rules that the Federal Government is trying to block?

ELIZABETH SHOGREN: Two years ago California passed rules that would slash greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. The governors, both Governor Schwarzenegger and Governor Gray Davis before him, approved of this, as did the legislature. And these efforts are kind of key to the state's efforts to fight climate change. After they did this, 10 other states have joined in, in the North East and in the North West. They decided they want to do this, too. The states are trying to do something to fight climate change.

: And what reason has the Federal Government given for trying to block the states from doing that?

SHOGREN: California argues that these are pollution standards and that it has special permission under the Clean Air Act to set pollution standards.

: If this is coming from the Department of Transportation, what does the EPA have to say? We've said they were out of the loop, but have they, but...

SHOGREN: So it's confusing and the spokesman from EPA told me today that he didn't really know about this part of the Transportation Department rule and suggested that maybe this is beginning of some kind of interagency warfare over who gets a say over this.

: Has there been reaction from the auto industry?

SHOGREN: Well the auto industry likes the Transportation Department's rule very much. It doesn't like the California rules at all. It's been fighting them in courts. It makes basically the same argument that the Bush Administration makes, which is that only the Federal Government can set fuel economy rules. The reason they say that these rules are actually fuel economy rules is that you use some of the same technologies to get rid of the greenhouse gases that you use to improve fuel economy.

: Well where does this leave the states that have these standards and that Department of Transportation is saying, no, you can't do this?

SHOGREN: And they accuse the Bush Administration of sticking its head in the sand about climate change. And they say that the Bush Administration is also just giving a big gift to the auto industry, which doesn't like the rule.

: NPR's Elizabeth Shogren, thanks very much.

SHOGREN: Thank you.

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