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California lawmakers limit auto emissions

November 24, 2010
The California legislature passed a bill that would make the state the first in the nation to limit greenhouse-gas emissions by new cars and light trucks, sending the measure to Gov. Gray Davis-and, if he signs it, probably to the courts. Environmental activists overcame strong opposition from the auto industry in getting California lawmakers to approve the measure, Assembly Bill 1493. Both sides spent heavily on the battle during the past couple of months, aware that if the bill becomes law, it probably will be copied by other states and will influence the debate in Washington over whether to toughen federal auto fuel-economy rules. The debate over the California bill heated up after Congress this spring rejected environmentalists' calls to toughen federal mileage standards significantly. The measure, which the California Senate approved days before the state Assembly passed it July 1, is an amended version of one that had stalled in recent weeks. Among other changes, the new version explicitly stipulates that California environmental regulators cannot reduce speed limits, restrict vehicle size or impose new taxes or fees-a response to auto-industry ads that suggested the earlier measure might lead to higher gas levies.