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California emissions bill expected to become law

November 24, 2010

One of the most controversial pieces of legislation ever written related to auto regulations is expected to be signed by July 23 by California Gov. Gray Davis. The move would be a statement of enthusiasm for the bill and demonstration that California can act, even when Washington can't.

Unlike any federal legislation designed to improve vehicle fuel economy, the California bill does not mention fuel mileage or even the word gasoline. Instead, it goes right to the heart of the matter-greenhouse gases-which are attributed to be the cause of global warming. What the bill does do is require the infamous California Air Resources Board to develop new emissions rules by 2005.

The board cannot change speed limits, impose taxes or ban certain types of vehicles, but it can require vehicles sold in the state by 2009 to meet lower emissions requirements. The bottom line is, the only way automakers can meet toughened emissions requirements is to improve fuel mileage. The way the legislation is written, legislators say it can be unchallenged in court and could become a landmark that other states will adopt.