"Federal environmental regulators announced last week that they will reconsider a request by California and 13 other states to control greenhouse gases from motor vehicles. That may kick-start debates in other states about which is preferable, the so-called federal CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standard or the more stringent California standard.
The Obama administration plans to set new federal standards for 2011 model-year autos as part of a 2007 law to require new cars and trucks to achieve 35 miles per gallon by 2020, a 40 percent increase. The California standard would yield an estimated fuel economy of 43 miles per gallon by 2020.
An analysis by the N.C. Division of Air Quality suggests that the California rules would be more effective at reducing greenhouse gases than the federal CAFE program. The agency estimates that adopting the California standards instead of the federal standards would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 40 percent between 2009 and 2020.
'Emissions is not something people talk about when they go buy a car,' said Anne Tazewell, transportation program manager at the N.C. Solar Center at N.C. State University. 'It's a big issue. Vehicles are a major source of our urban air quality problems.'"