President Barack Obama set in motion a process on Monday that may eventually allow California and other states to set tougher greenhouse gas pollution and efficiency standards on cars than those mandated by the federal government.
Obama’s move sends a signal to the world that the United States is beginning to join the rest of the developed countries to act on emissions blamed for warming the planet.
But some say allowing the states to take control of car emissions could lead to complications within the auto industry by forcing them make two sets of cars. Consumers in California and as many as 18 other states would have to buy one set of cars built according to a set of guidelines and regulations and the other states would have another set of cars that are built differently.
Certainly U.S. car companies have fallen behind in making clean cars that consumers want and the federal government should push them to get on track. But are two sets of rules what the ailing car industry needs right now?
Bill Bumpers, the director of the climate change practice at the law firm Baker Botts in Washington, D.C. doesn’t think so. “These are requirements that would be better off implemented on a national scale,” said Bumpers, who does not represent car companies. He wonders if state-by-state regulations would add expenses for them to comply with the rules.