Obama: Auto industry must work for bailout funds

John O'Brien Mar. 26, 2009, 2:22pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - President Barack Obama said Thursday that he will decide in the next several days about possible taxpayer help for the troubled U.S. auto industry.

Obama said auto companies could expect some help if they agree to restructure their businesses. A group of state attorneys general has maintained that the companies should put stricter emissions regulations in place if they are to receive taxpayer money.

"What we're expecting is that the automakers are going to be working with us to restructure," Obama said during an online town hall meeting, according to Reuters. "We will provide them some help."

An Obama task force must decide by Tuesday if General Motors and Chrysler should receive $22 billion in bailout funds after having already received $17.4 billion in December, the report says.

Seven state attorneys general wrote to Congress in November, urging lawmakers to force tougher emissions requirements on the companies asking for federal money.

Those attorneys general were Rhode Island's Patrick Lynch, Vermont's William Sorrell, California's Jerry Brown, Maryland's Doug Gansler, Massachusetts' Martha Coakley, Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal and Oregon's Hardy Myers

"(I)f the U.S. auto industry is serious about taking millions in aid from our pockets, it must show us that it too is serious about global warming and taking a leading (and therefore profitable) role as a producer of fuel-efficient and carbon-sensitive vehicles," the letter says.

The State of California has set its own emissions standards that are stricter than the federal Environmental Protection Agency's and have been adopted by other states. The automotive industry say states can not preempt federal law and have appealed a ruling that says they can.

In January, Obama told the EPA to reconsider California's request to impose its own limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

"The federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Obama said. "The days of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration will not deny facts, we will be guided by them. We cannot afford to pass the buck."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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