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Pelosi backs state auto pollution rules

/ Source: The Associated Press

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will oppose a proposal by fellow Democrats that would block her state of California and others from imposing landmark greenhouse gas reductions on automakers.

Pelosi issued a statement late Tuesday, a day after the measure tucked into a draft bill by Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., came to light. Boucher's plan drew angry opposition from environmentalists, California legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration.

"Any legislation that comes to the House floor must increase our energy independence, reduce global warming, invest in new technologies to achieve these goals and create good jobs in America," Pelosi said.

"Any proposal that affects California's landmark efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or eliminate the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions will not have my support."

Boucher chairs a subcommittee of Dingell's Energy and Commerce Committee and has scheduled the bill for a hearing Thursday.

"These issues will be addressed when we establish an economy-wide system for regulating greenhouse gas emissions," Dingell said in a statement. "The draft moves us closer to this goal. It strengthens fuel economy standards, establishes a federal low carbon fuel standard, requires automakers to report their carbon footprint and clarifies three conflicting regulations of fuel economy."

The measure would prohibit the head of the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing a waiver needed for a state to impose auto pollution standards "designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

California has been battling the federal EPA for two years over a state law that would require automakers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, by 25 percent from cars and 18 percent from SUVs by the 2009 model year.

The state still needs the EPA waiver before the law can be implemented. Eleven other states, including most of the Northeast as well as Washington and Oregon, have said they would follow California's lead if the federal waiver is granted.

Republican Schwarzenegger and other California officials have been making a high-profile push lately to get the waiver, which the EPA is considering. California Attorney General Jerry Brown, a Democrat, delivered colorful testimony at an EPA hearing last month where he accused President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney of being under the influence of the oil industry.

The auto industry opposes letting California and other states set their own greenhouse gas emission rules. The industry argues the benefits would be negligible and a single federal standard would be better. Dingell, the House's longest-serving member and an auto industry stalwart, has clashed before with Pelosi, a liberal from San Francisco, over her push for measures to attack global warming.

The Boucher bill, which is expected to be voted on by the committee later this month and then combined with other energy legislation, addresses a broad range of energy issues including expansion of ethanol production and greater fuel economy standards.