Official: U.S. To Release Pollution Standards Tuesday

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama will issue new fuel efficiency standards and pair them with a broader goal of reducing pollution from vehicle tailpipes, marking the first time limits on greenhouse gases will be linked to U.S. standards for cars and trucks.

Officials familiar with the administration's discussions say Obama will unveil the new standards on Tuesday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not been made.

California, 13 other states and the District of Columbia have urged the federal government to let them enact more stringent standards than the federal government's requirements. The states' regulations would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and trucks by 2016.

Officials said Tuesday's announcement moves toward the 30 percent goal by 2016, starting with model years 2011 and beyond.

The proposal is expected to coordinate two separate standards for fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, aiming for cars that achieve higher miles per gallon and have lower polluting air conditioning systems, said Roland Hwang, the vehicles policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. The environmental group has discussed the upcoming changes with the White House in recent weeks, he said.

Hwang said he expected the greenhouse gas standard would be set to an equivalent of nearly 35 miles per gallon for the vehicle fleet by 2016.

A 2007 energy law requires car makers to meet at least 35 mpg (15 kpl) by 2020, a 40 percent increase over the current standard of about 25 mpg. (10 kpl) Passenger car requirements have remained unchanged at 27.5 mpg (12 kpl) since 1985, drawing complaints from environmental groups that the government has been slow to push automakers to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Obama's move also would effectively end litigation between states and automakers, who sought to block state-specific rules. The new federal rules would prompt automakers to drop their lawsuit. Two car companies who have been part of the litigation, General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, have received billions in government loans during a dramatic downturn in car sales and weakened economy.

A March 2008 decision prevents states from setting their own limits on greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, but Obama has ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the ruling.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat who is being considered for the Supreme Court vacancy, will be at the White House for the Tuesday event on auto emissions standards, said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the event had not been announced.

Associated Press Writer Ben Feller contributed to this report.

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