California gets all the glory. As Kate mentioned, President Obama has ordered the EPA to reconsider a request from California and 13 other states to set automobile emissions standards that are tougher than federal standards. It’s that "13 other states" phrase that should be most important to Puget Sound readers, as Washington is one of the bunch.

Along with Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont, Washington has pledged to adopt California’s standards, which would aim to reduce vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions 30 percent by 2016.

So what has to happen here once the California waiver is OK’d? Well, technically, nothing. Once those stricter standards are approved for California, they’ll go into effect here in Washington, starting with the 2011 model year vehicles (which you’ll start to see on dealer lots next year). That is, unless state courts get involved. According to Sandy Howard of Washington’s Department of Ecology, there are still some pending state lawsuits that could affect the overall outcome.

Well, if we can’t force automakers to build greener cars, how about shaming consumers into buying greener cars?

environmental performance labelWashington, like California, has developed an easy-to-read environmental performance label that will illustrate just how harmful your vehicle is — and broadcast that fact to your fellow drivers. Beginning Feb. 15, new cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs can’t be sold without a label that shows their "global warming score" (greenhouse-gas emissions) and "smog score" (smog-forming pollutants). Think of it as a gold star for green(ish) cars, and a dunce cap for others.

Update [2009-1-27 14:14:27 by Sarah van Schagen]:

A reaction from Gov. Chris Gregoire (D): “I urge the EPA to act quickly to address the president’s request to give Washington and other states the ability to set their own vehicle emission standards. It is past time to clean up auto emissions and do our part to reduce global warming and improve the health of our citizens.”

Read more reactions from local politicians.