Obama has asked the EPA to reconsider the waiver request by California to implement their own gas mileage rules. This is quite different from how President Bush and the EPA stalled California over the past few years in their attempts to force automakers to produce fewer emissions.
President Obama noted in his Remarks:
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. We hold no illusion about the task that lies ahead. I cannot promise a quick fix; no single technology or set of regulations will get the job done. But we will commit ourselves to steady, focused, pragmatic pursuit of an America that is free from our energy dependence and empowered by a new energy economy that puts millions of our citizens to work.
He also wants to start implementing the new CAFE rules by 2011:
We will start by implementing new standards for model year 2011 so that we use less oil and families have access to cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks. This rule will be a down payment on a broader and sustained effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Congress has passed legislation to increase standards to at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020. That 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency for our cars and trucks could save over 2 million barrels of oil every day -- nearly the entire amount of oil that we import from the Persian Gulf.Neither proposition from President Obama will be met by cheers in the automakers offices right now.
If California is granted its waiver request, 13 other states will follow suit. That's about 40% of the total US market. Follow that link to see a breakdown of the two new rules (CAFE and California standards), how the two standards differ, and how the automakers will most likely react to them.
Since the two rules are implemented differently, the automakers will have to meet different standards in the US. The new CAFE rules differentiate between the sizes of each car, which means there's less penalty for building bigger cars (SUVs, trucks, etc...) while California will mandate a fleet-wide emissions program.
Governor Rendell in PA praised Obama for "his leadership and vision. Ensuring California,