With California preparing to limit tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide, automakers are bracing for the toughest regulatory environment at the state or federal level since the 1980s, according to a Detroit News
story by Jeff Plungis.In the next few weeks, California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, is expected to sign a controversial law to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a move that poses a significant setback for major automakers.At the federal level, the auto industry has scored impressive victories in the last two years, defeating efforts to raise the fuel economy of cars and trucks and stalling tougher environmental rules. But in California, where the environmental lobby carries more political weight, proponents of the new bill see an opportunity to address growing worries about global climate change and the need for environmental leadership.Detroit's automakers view the California legislation as the biggest threat to their livelihood since emissions reductions required by the state in the 1960s and '70s, and tougher fuel economy rules imposed by U.S. regulators inthe 1980s. Environmentalists contend the only way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is to improve the fuel economy of cars and light trucks.Automakers claim required hikes in fuel-economy requirements would force them to build smaller, less-safe vehicles out of line with consumer preferences.