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Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin is urging President-elect Barack Obama to fulfill a campaign pledge and lift a ban on strict California vehicle emissions limits that Maryland plans to mimic.

Cardin joined a bi-partisan group of senators who signed a letter to Obama today, asking him to quickly reverse a Bush administration decision prohibiting California and other states from enacting tough state-level limits on greenhouse gases pumped from car and truck tailpipes.

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"When it comes to the challenge of global warming, time is not on our side," the letter says. "Every day that we delay action makes it harder to achieve the cuts in pollution that are needed to avoid the most dangerous effects of global warming. The time to start is now.

"Granting California's request for waiver authority under section 209 of the Clean Air Act will in turn allow all other states to adopt the same program under section 177 of the Act," the letter says. "Fourteen other states have adopted California's standards, or are in the process of adopting them. Another four are moving toward adopting the California standards. All together, those 19 states represent more than 152,000,000 Americans – a majority of the U.S. population."

In January, Maryland joined California and 14 other states in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Bush decision. In 2007, Maryland lawmakers adopted a law requiring a 30 percent reduction in vehicle greenhouse gases by 2016. Obama could make the lawsuit moot.

Cardin was one of 15 senators to sign the letter. Sen. Barbara Mikulski wasn't one of them.

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