Striking a Stand on Energy

Yesterday, President Obama seems to have opened a whole new can of worms when he made his policy clear on his plans to implement change on his energy policies and how they applied to the States and our three American auto manufacturers.  My is a summary of this presentation entitled “The Road to Energy Independency has Finally Started” is here.

Obama’s Move on Fuel Efficiency: A Clean Win for Greens

By Bryan Walsh Monday
Jan. 26, 2009

President Barack Obama made the first big green move of his Administration by simply getting out of the way. Speaking from the White House, the President on Monday announced that he was directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider an application by California and 13 other states to set stricter limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and trucks, opening the way for tighter fuel efficiency standards nationwide. Obama is also directing the Department of Transportation to issue guidelines that will ensure the U.S. auto fleet reaches an average fuel economy of 35 miles per gallon (m.p.g.) by 2020 at the latest.

For environmentalists, who cheered Obama’s new policies even before they were official, the White House’s reversal on the California waiver request was particularly sweet.

For greens, that denial was a sign of just how intransigent the Bush Administration had become on global warming. Not only would the Bush EPA refuse to take action on its own to slow the growth in carbon emissions, it would actively prevent states — even ones with Republican governors — from taking steps on their own.

The more ambitious fuel economy standards, if adopted, will force the auto industry to rapidly retool to produce more efficient cars and trucks. Auto manufacturers have fought California’s rules in court, arguing that allowing the state to go forward on its own would create a patchwork of regulations that would burden an already struggling industry. But in the past, the Federal Government has often followed California’s lead, meaning the feared patchwork could soon become the national standard.

Obama is hardly the first American President to declare war on the country’s foreign oil habit — President George W. Bush himself famously said that America was “addicted to oil.” And it won’t be easy for the U.S. auto industry, already on life support, to shift quickly to more fuel-efficient models after years of resisting them. But the very fact that Obama chose to tackle fuel economy at the start of his Administration gives greens hope. “President Obama has done more in one week to reduce oil dependence and fight global warming than President Bush did in eight years,” said Daniel Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress. It truly is a change.

From Politico another positive reaction in a posting entitled “Obama says no ‘quick fix’.”, which is a pretty comprehensive article outlining the key points of consideration for review.  Again, here are a few of the excerpts:

Obama says no ‘quick fix’

1/26/09 12:13 PM EST
Updated: 1/26/09 4:28 PM EST

“The days of Washington dragging its heels are over,” Obama said. “My administration will not deny facts; we will be guided by them. We cannot afford to pass the buck or push the burden onto the states.”

“No single issue is as fundamental to our future as energy,” Obama said. In terms of national security, he added, “America will not be held hostage to dwindling resources, hostile regimes and a warming planet.”

Obama said that Washington’s “refusal to lead” on climate change had created a “patchwork” of efforts by the states, which is precisely the language the auto lobby used in opposing the California emissions standard.

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has lobbied heavily for the change and outlined his request in a letter to the new president last week.  Schwarzenegger, a Republican who is term-limited out in 2010, lavished praise on the new Democratic president.  “With this announcement from President Obama less than a week into his administration, it is clear that California and the environment now have a strong ally in the White House,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “Allowing California and other states to aggressively reduce their own harmful vehicle tailpipe emissions would be a historic win for clean air and for millions of Americans who want more fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly cars.”

At least 13 other states have vowed to adopt similar standards if California wins its waiver and bolsters standards.

In a statement, General Motors suggested it’s not ready to go along with state-by-state emissions standards like California’s, saying the company would “support meaningful and workable solutions and targets that benefit consumers from coast to coast.” The company also said any solution must take into account how quickly new technologies can be put into the marketplace, along with “market and economic factors.”

And finally only one negative publication by Politico from Senator Levi of Michigan, which is more or less surprising since the Senator is a Democrat, but after all from Michigan.  Personally I feel the Senator’s comments and feelings are uncalled for in light of the President pushing hard on a bailout package supporting our auto makers.  This is not the spirit of cooperation needed to get American back on the road and our economy rolling.

Here are some excerpts from the Politico article:

Levin criticizes emissions proposal

1/26/09 2:44 PM EST

Levin criticizes emissions proposal

Levin criticizes emissions proposal

Levin was the first Democrat to speak out Monday afternoon, but his opposition may make other rust belt Democrats more comfortable criticizing President Obama’s first major environmental initiative.

Levin, a liberal Democrat but a fierce defender of his state’s auto industry, said he was assured in recent discussions with top Obama environment officials that the Environmental Protection Agency “does not begin with a foregone conclusion” that a waiver should be granted to the state so it can go beyond federal limits.

“I sure hope that is true, because a separate California standard will not only create the ‘confusing and patchwork set of standards’ that President Obama today implied he wanted to avoid, but also, as the California standard is currently drafted, it is discriminatory against U.S.-made vehicles of the same efficiency as the imports,” Levin said.

The move has angered Republicans and lawmakers from auto-producing states, but environmentalists say it takes a giant step toward curbing global warming since other states could impose stricter rules if the waiver is granted.

“It is so refreshing to see that the president understands that science must lead the way,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.


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