Obama May Set National Auto Emissions Standard
Photo via Greenpeace
We're hardly a month into a new administration, and at least from an environmental perspective, it's hard to believe that this is the same country we're talking about: clamping down on coal, leading negotiations to create a multinational treaty to cut mercury emissions, and now, nationwide greenhouse gas regulations on cars? That's right—the Obama administration has just announced that it's considering establishing national standards for regulating greenhouse gas. A New Direction in Emission RegulationsGeorge W Who? Coming off 8 years of an administration that barely acknowledged the existence of climate change, even merely proposing a nationwide regulation of cars' emissions seems astounding. And of course it's too soon to tell what will actually take effect in the long term, but on the environmental front, so far, so good.
The administration has been meeting for weeks with California representatives and car manufacturers to broker a deal in which the state could ascertain the ability to regulate auto emissions, when Carol Browner (assistant to the climate on energy and climate) began advocating a national set of rules: "The hope across the administration is that we can have a unified national policy when it comes to cleaner vehicles," Browner said, according to the Washington Post.
The Road to RegulationAnother official involved in the negotiations emphasized taking a practical approach:
The administration recognizes that these are hard times for the auto industry, and we are exploring a process to develop a national policy for autos within the context of larger restructuring negotiations
And even automakers are backing the idea:
Several auto industry officials said they backed the idea of a universal fuel-efficiency standard aimed at curbing greenhouse gases, even if it is stricter than the country's current goal of achieving a fleetwide average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. California's proposed rule would produce a standard of roughly 42 mpg.
They just want consistency—a spokesman for General Motors says that they'd be happy to abide by such a regulation, as it would be far preferable to appeasing various regulations state by state.
. . . Or to Cap and Trade?Or, combined with the EPA's announced intent to regulate CO2, it could be a way for Obama to put pressure on regulation opponents to opt for a cap and trade system:
"The administration is engaged with Congress to pass cap-and-trade legislation, which the president believes is far superior to a regulatory approach using the existing Clean Air Act."
Either way, we've got yet another progressive green idea emerging from the government, where for so long we'd gotten used to the emergence of, well, not so many. Time will tell, of course, whether and how well Mr. Obama will be able to execute all these ideas he's got floating around.
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