Californians have never been shy about taking to the open road, and the balance between that cherished automotive freedom and environmental stewardship is strong in the nation's largest car market. In a place where the car culture is as embedded as surfing, automakers are watching warily to see if other states will follow California's lead in a mandate to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in cars and light trucks by 2009, according to an Associated Press story by Stephanie Frith.The bill, already approved by the state Legislature, is sitting on the desk of Gov. Gray Davis, who said it's likely he'll sign it. "Most Americans believe that we can have the choice of the auto or truck we want and still do a better job with the cleaning up theenvironment around us," Davis said during an interview with San Francisco's KGO radio. "I believe this bill strikes the appropriate balance, and that's why I'm strongly inclined to sign it."The bill, if signed, would be the nation's first to target carbon dioxide emissions and the state's strongest push in years to make cars run cleaner. But there is sizable opposition from the automotive industry, which has threatened to go to court to fight it.Automakers claim the carbon dioxide emissions bill will dictate what Californians will be able to drive because there is no existing technology to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global warming. That, industry proponents said, means building smaller cars that don't use as much gasoline as SUVs or trucks.