The standards are the most ambitious environmental regulations for automobiles since federal fuel economy regulations were enacted in the 1970's. They will be phased in starting with 2009 models and require a roughly 30 percent reduction in automotive emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by the 2016 models.
The new rules will also effectively require an improvement in fuel economy on the order of 40 percent for vehicles sold in the state.
Ten states follow or plan to follow California's air quality rules, which have previously focused on auto emissions that cause smog, and the latest set of rules would for the first time limit carbon dioxide emissions. And as the largest of the 10 states, New York is being closely watched as it institutes the new rules.
If all 10 states and California succeed in enacting the rules, they will form a powerful alternative regulatory bloc accounting for about a third of the nation's auto sales.
"That is so much of the market it should reach a tipping point," Mr. Doniger said. "It won't make sense for the automakers to build two fleets, one clean and one dirty."
If these new regulations survive court challenges, they'll reconfigure American automobile dependency. It'll take years for Minnesota to follow suit, but hopefully that won't matter.