WASHINGTON -- Newly passed California legislation to cut greenhouse gas output by cars and trucks has the potential to alter national policies on fuel economy and emissions.
Automakers intend to prove that the California measure is a thinly disguised attempt to set fuel-economy standards - a job the industry says is pre-empted by the federal government.
But environmental groups are eager to establish the principle that California - and then other states - have authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The federal Clean Air Act does not make that clear.
"The California action is really a very landmark development," said Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust, one of many environmental groups closely watching, and in many cases cheering, state activities.