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Obama May Let States Set Emissions Standards

President Obama is continuing his reversal of Bush-era policies, issuing two memoranda on Monday that promote his clean-energy policy while having a far-reaching impact on the ailing U.S. auto industry.

The first memorandum will order the Transportation Department to work out rules for automakers to improve fuel economy. It will call for the department to notify automakers by March 2009 to increase their fuel efficiency for 2011 model year cars and trucks.

The second memorandum will order the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider California's request for a waiver from the Clean Air Act -- a move that would allow California, the nation's most populous state, to set tougher tailpipe emission standards than apply nationally.

The president is expected to offer more details in the White House's East Room at 10:30 a.m. ET.

The memoranda mark further reversals by Obama of policies set down by his predecessor, George W. Bush. Last week Obama used his executive power to reverse Bush's policies on interrogation of suspected terrorists, the Guantanamo Bay detention center and funding for international groups that perform abortions or provide abortion information

The latest rule on California aims to reverse a 2007 decision by the Bush Environmental Protection Agency that touched off a storm of investigations and lawsuits from Democrats and environmental groups who contended the denial was based on political instead of scientific reasons.

California's proposed restrictions would force automakers to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks by 2016. U.S. automakers have opposed the waiver, claiming it would create two different emission standards and therefore complicate methods of manufacturing vehicles with different environmental standards.

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