Schwarzenegger says Calif. won’t back down from auto lawsuit |

Schwarzenegger says Calif. won’t back down from auto lawsuit

LOS ANGELES (AP) ” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Thursday that California won’t back down from its lawsuit to force tougher auto emissions standards and will stick to its plan to put the standards in place by the 2009 model year despite protests from the auto industry.

“We understand the way the corporate world works, and we understand the way lawyers work. They will do everything they can to stop it, and we will do everything we can to move forward,” Schwarzenegger said during a tour of the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Schwarzenegger said he wants to work with automakers and support them, which is why he highlighted fuel efficient vehicles at the show. The show opens to the public Friday.

“The only way we can be successful in this mission, with our reduction of greenhouse gases … is by getting the car manufacturers to come in and to work with us,” he said. “In the beginning it’s like children. You say, don’t do that, they resist, and eventually they get with the program.”

Last week, California sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeking to force the agency to decide whether California can enact the country’s first emissions standards for cars and light trucks. The state first sought permission for such a regulation two years ago.

Schwarzenegger said Thursday that 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation fuels.

Automakers are fighting that lawsuit and others, arguing that it would be too complicated and expensive to meet a patchwork of state regulations and that the federal government must set emissions standards. Vehicles from the 2009 model year will start hitting U.S. roads next year.

Schwarzenegger said automakers should simply adopt California’s standards and put them in place nationwide.

“The federal government is not showing any leadership. They’re asleep at the wheel,” he said. “We have to create the standards. We have to show leadership.”

Before the tour, Schwarzenegger reviewed fuel-efficient offerings from several manufacturers, including a hybrid Dodge Durango, a plug-in Toyota Prius, a diesel Volkswagen Jetta, Chevrolet’s Volt electric car and Honda’s new FCX Clarity fuel cell car.

“Car manufacturers from around the world are coming in with the latest technology and have proven that you can make beautiful cars, strong cars, keep the size, keep the safety and all those kinds of things and at the same time be more fuel efficient,” Schwarzenegger said.

Schwarzenegger started his tour at General Motors Corp.’s Hummer exhibit before going to a Saturn exhibit, where he ran his hands over a hybrid engine.

“That’s it. This is where the action is, right here,” he said with a smile.

Chrysler LLC Chairman Bob Nardelli spoke briefly with Schwarzenegger about the hybrid Dodge Durango but said afterward that the two didn’t discuss the lawsuit.

“I think the governor is a very strong advocate for environmental improvement and reducing the dependency on fuel,” Nardelli said. “He’s taking one approach. We’re working very closely with all the regulatory agencies in Washington to make sure we understand, to make sure we’re providing all of the facts, so everyone can make an informed decision.”

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said last summer that he would decide on California’s standard by the end of this year. Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington joined California’s lawsuit against the federal government.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.

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