Spearheaded by California Senator Barbara Boxer, a coalition of 17 states are seeking the ability to control vehicle emissions regulations within their borders as they see fit. The central point of contention is a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency last year that refused to allow the states a waiver to institute a 30 percent reduction in vehicle emissions.

The EPA's decision to prohibit individual states from tightening emissions regulations is supported by the auto industry, which could face a nightmare scenario of literally a dozen or more different emissions schemes it would have to meet to sell cars in all 50 U.S. states, reports The Detroit News. The overhead required to engineer and manage cars for each - or the cost involved in making the entire fleet meet the strictest standards - would potentially be enormous.

The Bush administration likewise is advocating its Clean Air Act as a national solution, avoiding the 'patchwork' or ad hoc implementation that would result if the matter were left up to each state.

The bill was introduced by the 17 senators in January and will go before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee next week.

The State of California has developed a reputation for fighting any way it can to reduce tailpipe emissions. In 2006, the state sued the auto industry for damaging the state with greenhouse gases. The case was eventually tossed out of court, but the state continues to seek ways to require reduced emissions for cars sold within its borders.