ARLINGTON, Va. -- At a hearing here last week, witness after witness urged the EPA to let states set and enforce their own greenhouse gas emissions rules for cars and trucks.
Even an auto dealer and a leader of a supplier group endorsed an EPA waiver that California and 11 other states need to proceed with their proposed regulations. The goal of the rules is a 30 percent cut by 2016 in vehicle emissions, mainly carbon dioxide.
California's flamboyant attorney general, Jerry Brown, and dozens of other state officials and environmental activists backed the rules. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not testify, but he renewed his threat to sue if the EPA does not grant his state a waiver by Oct. 24.
The testimony seemed to create an air of inevitability. But one auto industry leader privately called the hearing mostly theater.
Others, though, view the waiver fight as part of a bigger debate over how the nation should respond to global warming. They say Congress and the White House ultimately need to forge a compromise on the issue.
"We want to see Congress clear up the confusion," said Mike Stanton, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers.
His organization, which represents 14 import-brand automakers, did not send a witness to the hearing. But Stanton said it will submit written comments opposing the waiver.