Bush lays plans to regulate auto pollution

He still opposes mandatory caps on emissions.

Published May 15, 2007

WASHINGTON - President Bush, prodded by a Supreme Court ruling, said Monday that his administration will decide how to regulate pollution from new motor vehicles by the time he leaves office.

Bush signed an executive order directing federal agencies to craft regulations that will "cut gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles."

He ordered the agencies - the departments of Transportation, Agriculture and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency - to have the rules in place by the end of 2008.

The announcement came as gasoline prices hit a new record Monday: $3.07 per gallon.

The president still opposes mandatory caps on emissions. He has said that anything other than a voluntary approach would unduly harm the economy.

But the Democratic-controlled Congress is considering a number of bills that would impose a cap on emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading gas linked to global warming, and a carbon trade system.

Last month, the Supreme Court declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases qualify as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and thus can be regulated by the EPA. The court also said that the "laundry list" of reasons the administration has given for declining to do so are insufficient, ruling that the EPA must regulate carbon dioxide if it finds that it endangers public health.

EPA administrator Stephen Johnson said that a draft proposal should be ready by fall and that it will include a finding on whether carbon dioxide is a health threat. He suggested there could be no regulation if no threat is found, or if the agency determines there is "some other reason and rational explanation for why it was not necessary to regulate."

Fast Facts:


After the ruling

Clearing the air: President Bush ordered federal agencies to come up with plans to regulate vehicle emissions before he leaves office.

Background: This was in response to a Supreme Court ruling that defined greenhouse gases as pollutants and said the administration's reasons for not regulating them were insufficient.

Honor system: Bush is likely to stick to his support of a voluntary approach to cutting emissions.