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US States Plead With Federal Government to Help Auto Industry

America's ailing automakers are getting more support as they plead with the U.S. government for help.

The governors of six U.S. states, Michigan, Delaware, Kentucky, New York, Ohio and South Dakota, have sent a letter to the Treasury Department, requesting the government take immediate action.

In the letter, released Thursday, the governors warn numerous companies connected to the auto industry, as well as millions of workers, would be at risk if the major auto companies fail.

It follows announcements by the car makers earlier this week about plant closings and potential layoffs.

Once known as the "Big Three," General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have been struggling to survive, battered by high oil prices and the financial crunch, which has made it difficult for consumers to get car loans.

GM, the largest U.S. automaker, announced yesterday its third quarter sales from July through September fell by more than 11 percent.

Some economists say it is possible at least one of the U.S. car makers will not survive. And GM has been in talks with Chrysler about a possible merger. Sources close to the negotiations have said GM is seeking $10 billion in loans to facilitate a deal.

White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino says the government has been talking with all three automakers. She says portions of the companies that offer loans to buy automobiles may be eligible for help through the $700 billion financial rescue package passed by Congress earlier this month.

Other officials say the government could make money available from a $25 billion loan program designed to help the industry produce more fuel-efficient vehicles.