Mr. Obama's memorandum will order the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the Bush administration's former rejection of the application. An article in the New York Times says that the announcement fulfills Obama's campaign pledge and signifies a change in environmental policy.
Even though a decision has yet to be made, the agency's regulators are expected to approve the California emissions waiver. Despite lobbying against the regulations by the automobile manufacturers, once the approval happens, the manufacturers will quickly have to phase-in cars and trucks that get higher mileage than the national standard.
Under the Clean Air Act, California can seek a waiver from federal rules if it can demonstrate that its own regulations are more stringent and are needed to address its air pollution problems. It is the hope that California can set the stage for other states to follow suit.
Pushing beyond this act, Mr. Obama will also direct the Transportation Department to quickly finalize interim nationwide regulations requiring the automobile industry to increase fuel efficiency standards to comply with a 2007 law. According to the Times article, Mr. Obama will avoid losing another year by ordering temporary regulations to be completed by March so automakers have enough time to retool for vhicles sold in 2011.
Less than a week in office and he's already making headway!