WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Seven state attorneys general have written to federal lawmakers, urging them to require financially troubled automobile makers to produce more fuel-efficient cars if those companies receive federal help.

The attorneys general say any relief package crafted by Congress must include measures that will cut greenhouse gas emissions. Legislators met this week to consider help for the automobile industry.

"If the domestic auto manufacturers are to survive, they must change their ways" Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said.

"Making them produce cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars is key to their future success and should be part of any financial package."

The letter was sent to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Automakers are seeking $25 billion in immediate loans from the recent $700 billion bailout of the financial industry.

"(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.

California's Jerry Brown, Maryland's Doug Gansler, Massachusetts' Martha Coakley, Rhode Island's Patrick Lynch, Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal and Oregon's Hardy Myers joined in the letter.

The State of California has set its own emissions standards that are stricter than the federal Environmental Protection Agency's.

The EPA denied granting a waiver that allowed other states to use California's standards in January. That decision is still on appeal.

Other states joining in that appeal are Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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