By William Branigin, Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, Washington Post Staff Writers

 President Obama today promised new U.S. leadership in the fight against global warming as he announced a series of steps aimed at making American cars more fuel efficient and reducing greenhouse gases, including a directive to the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider granting California and other states waivers to set their own strict regulations on auto emissions.

In remarks at the White House at the start of his second week in office, Obama declared a national goal of ending dependence on foreign oil and called on Congress to pass a massive stimulus package that he said would help “create a new American energy economy.”

Flanked by Transportation Secretary  Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, he signed two presidential directives that could lead to the production of more fuel-efficient American cars with reduced tailpipe emissions.

The moves are aimed at reversing decisions by Bush administration, which he said had stood in the way of bold action by California and other states to limit greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.

“The days of Washington dragging its heels are over,” Obama said.

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