House bill lets California restrict car emissions

Vehicles are seen during rush hour on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California October 3, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on Thursday that would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to prevent California from limiting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions spewed by cars.

The EPA last December turned down California’s request for a waiver from federal law that would have permitted the state to cut vehicle carbon dioxide emissions, which when implemented would have likely have raised the required fuel efficiency of cars and also fought global warming.

A group of 60 House lawmakers introduced legislation that would immediately grant California’s waiver request and also clear the way for 12 other states to set vehicle tailpipe emissions standards.

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision defied the science, defied the states, and defied common sense,” said Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont, who co-sponsored the bill.

“With consumers feeling the pinch of record fuel prices and the evidence of global warming overwhelming, the Bush administration must lead, follow, or get out of the way,” he said.

Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate this year by Barbara Boxer of California.

The 12 states wanting to follow California in regulating tailpipe emissions are Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The governors of Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Utah also have committed to implementing similar vehicle emissions standards.

Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Walter Bagley