President Obama directed federal regulators to act on a waiver that would allow 14 states including California to regulate their own auto emissions and fuel efficiency standards strictly. The move forces automakers to produce more efficient vehicles, bringing the average miles per gallon of a new car or light truck to be sold in those states from the current average of 27 mpg to 35 mpg. Auto emissions cause more than one-fifth of all greenhouse gases.
The move was a rejection of Bush administration policy, which had denied the application because it would create "an unenforceable patchwork of environmental law," according to the New York Times. The auto industry has also lobbied against the move in the past, stating that the waiver would require them to make two sets of cars with separate standards. Though Obama is mindful of the auto industry's troubles, the move would require fast action on the part of Detroit - more efficient vehicles have to make it to the market by 2011.
The states affected by the waiver are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and New Jersey, as well as the District of Columbia. Obama also ordered the Department of Transportation to draw up rules for a 2007 law that required a 40 percent improvement in gas mileage for vehicles by 2020, a step the previous administration did not take. Said Obama, his orders would "ensure that the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow are built right here in America."