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Cleaner Car Battle Heating Up

March 24th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

A battle over cleaner cars is heating up. The Federal government is taking the first baby steps to regulate green house gas emissions, and legislation here in Florida cleared a key Senate committee today. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us car makers seem to have the upper hand.

Passing the tough new tailpipe emission standards is a top priority of environmentalists.
The goal is 35 miles per gallon by 2013 and 40 miles per gallon by 2020.

Florida will be on the way to setting its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions from cars. Its what we need to do, Eric Draper with Florida Audubon said.

But despite the optimism, environmentalists know they have problems. Car makers have some of the best lobbyists in the business working against the change. We took this picture at a strategy session before a battle in a committee meeting they knew they would loose. They dont expect to lose the war.

Cars have improved. Emissions from cars have improved since 1970 by 99 percent, Wade Hopping with the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers said.

By all accounts, the big car companies are going to be able to keep this bill from going any further, unless Governor Charlie Crist steps in.

The question is how much political capital the Governor is willing to use on what appears to be a hopeless cause.

As much as we can muster, Crist said. I think its awfully important. We want to do as much as we can to help keep Floridas environment clean. It helps the economy. It helps tourism and were committed to it.

Car makers say they are not opposed to cleaner cars, just Floridas specific regulations that could be different from other states. They are also telling lawmakers that people cant afford the one to three thousand dollars in additional cost. And so far, Lawmakers are listening.

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