Using "energy independence" as the key motivator, President Barack Obama is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider allowing California and other states to implement auto emission standards that are tougher than current federal regulations. Obama is also ordering his administration to conduct reviews for new fuel-efficiency standards for cars that could lead to tougher auto emission standards. For unedited video of Obama's speech and auto correspondent Ken Thomas's analysis, click through the always carbon-free jump.States must obtain a federal waiver to regulate vehicle emissions. Under the Bush administration, the EPA denighed California's 2007 request. With an allusion to climate change denial and a refreshed respect for science, Obama said:
My administration will not deny facts, we will be guided by them.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger considers Obama's a victory for clean air for generations to come. AP speculates that the auto industry will chafe given that they want a unified federal standard for car and truck tailpipe emission levels, but this ratcheted-up pressure on automakers hopefully will at long last produce more fuel-efficient cars.
However, the uncut clip of Obama's speech indicates advocacy for a unified federal standard and leaves one to speculate that his EPA request is intended as catalyst toward achieving just such national standard.
Ken Thomas of AP non-the-less sees the glass as half-empty, noting that new regulations will cost the auto industry billions of dollars and of course the industry is already in trouble.
Thomas fails to point out that, while GM and Chrystler have already received billions in government loans and thus will be less able to lobby against new requirements, ultimately American taxpayers themselves (theoretically) should become the beneficiaries of a blended auto industry / government spend. The dollars the industry is forced to spend on development and production of new technology and vehicles will require paying American's to do the work which in turn will allow them to spend their earnings on other good stuff (or perhaps just rent stuff from a neighbor!) as well as to purchase good, quality local organic produce, etc.
Going back to square one is, as always, the green solution since it is due to the unsustainable design of products and systems that got us into this mess in the first place. It looks like we're beginning to accept the consequences of our actions and, as Thomas states, we're definitely going to see these new, green machines rolling onto our streets in the next couple of years.