3 Green Pre-Conditions for a Big Three Bailout

gm ev1 photo

photo: Richard O. Barry

With all the talk about bailing Detroit's Big Three automakers out of a mess seemingly of their own creation, a number of groups have put forward the idea that if Detroit wants monetary help there are going to have to be some serious conditions placed on how that money is used.

In a new piece for Yale Environment 360 Jim Motavalli nicely sums up how Detroit got to be between the rock and a hard place (reliance on an unsustainable bigger is better formula entirely dependent on a never ending supply of cheap oil), and some of the conditions which should be placed on them should funding be approved to support them.

Three green pre-conditions for an auto bailout are as follows:Stop Trying to Block Environmental Regulations

"The first requirement is that the automakers should drop their four-year legal attack against the global warming laws in California and other states," says Ailis Aaron Wolf of 40mpg.org, a project of the Civil Society Institute.

The argument by the Big Three, and supported by the Bush administration, is that only the Federal government has the right the set fuel economy standards and therefore any effort by states to set higher standards in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are invalid.

Establish More Competitive Business Plans

Luke Tonachel, a transportation analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, also wants to see some tough love for the auto industry. "Any money that helps the automakers deal with their current economic situation should be conditioned on their establishing a business plan that will make them competitive in the future," he said. "They have to make dramatically cleaner, high-mileage vehicles if they want to be competitive in a world of insecure and volatile oil markets and intensifying global warming."

Tonachel went on to list off-the-shelf technology and methods that could be implemented to improve environmental performance: streamlined body designs, more efficient 6 or 7 speed transmissions, low rolling-resistance tires.

Mandate Greater Commitment to Hybrids & Greater Fuel Efficiency
Ailis Aaron Wolf of 40mpg.org and Jim Kliesch of the Union of Concerned Scientists weighed in on fuel efficiency. Wolf first:

Obviously, the more forward-thinking automakers that have built hybrids and concentrated on fuel efficiency have done better in the marketplace. Any bailout funding should be tied to requirements that they commit to building hybrids, clean diesels and other highly fuel-efficient vehicles.

Kliesch advocated a 4% per year increase in fuel efficiency,

Jim Kliesch, a senior engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists, thinks automakers should commit to a four-percent-per-year improvement in fuel economy across their entire product lines, from big trucks to compact cars. "We're saying the taxpayers should be getting a return on their investment," he said. "Consumers are clamoring for more fuel-efficient vehicles, and sadly there aren't many of them out there right now. There's plenty of blame to go around, but one of the biggest problems is that the industry has dragged its heels too long."

So what do TreeHugger readers think? After all it'd be your money (if you pay taxes in the US at least...), what green conditions should be placed upon any Big Three bailout money?

More at: Yale Environment 360
Fuel Efficiency, Global Climate Change
2009 Fuel Economy Guide: Toyota Prius First, Lamborghini Murciélago Last
84.66 MPG: Toyota Yaris Diesel Wins 2008 ALD Fleet World MPG Marathon
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