Washington, D.C. – U.S. President Barack Obama has signed memoranda directing the Transportation Department to establish higher vehicle fuel economy standards by model-year 2011, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider a bid by California and 13 other states to set tailpipe carbon dioxide emission standards that would also require greater fuel economy.

Obama said that “no single issue is as imperative to the economy as energy” as he began to lay the foundation for a new, clean energy era that will include rapid and widespread deployment of energy efficiency.

The president also said that he intends to weatherize two million homes over the next two years, make significant energy efficiency upgrades to 75 per cent of federal buildings, double the country’s renewable energy resource base, and create nearly 500,000 new “green jobs.”

In statements, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said that it supports a nationwide program that bridges state and federal concerns, while the National Automobile Dealers Association said that “with almost 1,000 auto dealerships closing last year at a cost of over 50,000 jobs, we are hopeful the President and the EPA Administrator will realize that a single national fuel-economy standard set by his Administration is smarter than a patchwork of state regulations that further endanger the struggling auto industry.”

In its statement, General Motors said that it is “working aggressively on the products and the advance technologies that match the nation’s and consumers’ priorities to save energy and reduce emissions. We’re ready to engage the Obama administration and the Congress on policies that support meaningful and workable solutions and targets that benefit consumers from coast to coast. We look forward to contributing to a comprehensive policy discussion that takes into account the development pace of new technologies, alternative fuels, and market and economic factors.”

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