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Inhofe: California is Dictating to Feds on Auto Fuel Efficiency

8:08 AM PDT on March 22, 2010

The senior Republican on the Senate environment panel has
the House transportation bill for strengthening federal
involvement at the expense of states -- but when it comes to last year's
to raise
national fuel-efficiency standards, Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK)
is making the opposite argument, accusing the White House of letting one
state dictate auto policy.

091109_inhofe_boxer_ap_297.jpgSen. Jim
Inhofe (R-OK), at left, with environment panel chairman Barbara Boxer
(D-CA) (Photo: Politico)

office warned in a Friday release that California, the home state of
environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D), would continue to
ratchet up fuel-efficiency floors for the U.S. auto fleet during talks
on how to extend the White House pact beyond 2016. From Inhofe's weekly newsletter:

The problem is California,which sees this deal as a spring board to tougher standards after 2017.California believes it has the authority under the Clean Air Act to setits own GHG standards - and it wants to make them tougher than what thefeds have proposed. This could create the very patchwork the autos wantto avoid. Or it could force yet another deal after 2017 in which theGolden State reigns supreme. ...

We see great merit inreducing dependence on foreign oil and promoting automotive innovationand technology. But we also see, and wish to thwart, the economic bombdropping after 2017, as California seeks to impose its automotivevision on the entire nation. ...

Inhofe's depiction of a national fuel-efficiency (or CAFE) standard
driven by California is more than a one-shot rhetorical volley. The auto
industry, having
the White House in fighting congressional efforts to limit
federal authority on emissions, is already looking to 2017 and the next
round of negotiations over CAFE policy.

Consumer groups have
that last year's agreement to raise CAFE standards to 35.5
miles per gallon by 2016 could have imposed even stronger emissions
limits while lowering gas bills for drivers and overall public health

But Inhofe's fiery denunciation of that CAFE rule -- which he
depicts as lacking a "legal basis" and being "a launching pad to realize
California's green vision writ large" -- portends a stronger push to
weaken the terms of the administration's sequel on fuel standards. Stay
tuned ...

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