President Bush is calling on the U.S. departments of transportation, agriculture and energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to work together in developing stricter regulations to increase vehicle fuel efficiency and reduce tailpipe emissions.
The executive order is in response to a Supreme Court ruling declaring carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and empowering the EPA to regulate vehicle emissions.
The court finding was seen as a knock on Bush for his administration's inaction in dealing with air pollution, which is said to contribute to global warming.
Bush's new proposal calls for the EPA to initiate a regulatory process through the Clean Air Act and have final rules in place by 2008. Public comment on the proposed regulations will be allowed before final regulations are set.
Bush says his goal calls for an annual 4% increase in the corporate average fuel economy standards over the current 27.5 mpg (8.5 L/100 km) requirement today. Other proposals circulating in Congress would put CAFE requirements at 34 mpg (6.9 L/100 km).
While Bush's emphasis on renewable energy encompasses a number of alternative fuels, such as hydrogen and biofuels, its primary focus is on the development of plant-based ethanol.