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Bush Pushes Plan to Reduce Auto Emissions

President Bush has ordered major government agencies to start work on drafting new regulations to cut dangerous auto emissions. VOA's Paula Wolfson has details from the White House.

The president is coming under increasing pressure to tackle America's energy woes.

The Supreme Court has ruled that carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks must be regulated by the government. At the same time, gasoline prices are rising to record levels across the country and consumers are demanding action.

The president says his administration has already proposed a plan to cut America's dependence on foreign fuels by 20 percent in 10 years by setting fuel efficiency standards for certain vehicles and promoting alternatives to gasoline. He says he is stepping up the process by ordering all government agencies involved in energy policy to work together to come up with new regulations.

"We now have reached a pivotal moment where advances in technology are creating new ways to improve energy security, strengthen national security and protect the environment," he said.

But the president cautions that change will not come overnight.

"This is a complicated legal and technical matter and it is going to take time to fully resolve," he said. "Yet it is important to move forward, so I have directed members of my administration to complete the process by the end of 2008."

That means the new regulations will not be ready until the end of the president's term in office

Democrats seeking their party's 2008 presidential nomination are already making the president's record on the environment an election issue.

Leading Democrats have criticized President Bush for his refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol - an international agreement that calls for mandatory controls on emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere. These gases have been labeled by many scientists as the primary cause of the climate change phenomenon known as global warming.