In one of his first orders, President Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review whether California and more than a dozen states should be allowed to impose tougher auto emission standards on carmakers to fight greenhouse gas emissions. The Bush administration had blocked the efforts by the states, which account for about half of the nation’s auto sales.

As reported by the AP; last Thursday, California’s top environmental officials appeared at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing to urge President Obama to make good on his election-year pledge to approve the state’s aggressive greenhouse gas rules for vehicles. Thirteen other states and the District of Columbia want to adopt California’s standards, which would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and trucks by 2016.

Joining the debate on behalf of the auto industry was Michael J. Stanton of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) who urged for a comprehensive national approach to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Michael’s testimony:

AIAM strongly believes that a single national program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles is the only sensible approach. EPA, DOT, California and other states have important complementary roles to play in this national program. This proceeding provides EPA with a unique opportunity to take the necessary steps towards achieving a successful national program.

“However, we are concerned that a move by EPA to unconditionally grant the waiver would undermine the opportunity to achieve a national policy. Such a grant would result in a patchwork of regulatory programs, all with the same fundamental purpose but each having differing and potentially conflicting levels of stringency and administrative requirements.”

As reported by The Detroit Free Press, Michigan Sen. Carl Levin also asked the Obama administration to deny California’s attempt to limit global-warming emissions from cars and trucks, confirming the country needed a nationwide rule.

According to Levin:

“Global warming is not unique to California, and to suggest that it is actually undermines the argument that it is a global threat that knows no boundaries.”

According to The Hill, automakers and dealers also argued that California’s standard would cause further strain on the industry.

Following Thursday’s hearing, the EPA will accept written comments until April 6, with a decision to hopefully follow soon thereafter.

We hope all parties concerned realize and agree that aggressive federal action is the only viable alternative and that a patchwork of state requirements would impose unnecessary costs on an industry striving for efficiencies, providing little if any incremental environmental benefit.