My Republican friend says I should just calm down. People all over the world are working hard to stop global climate change. I wonder if he is looking at the same people I am. Scary thing is, he is.
For example, he is probably looking at the new energy bill as a big step forward. The Bush Administration has pledged to a 35-mph fleet-wide fuel economy average by 2020. So in twelve years we are setting a standard for fuel economy that is five miles per gallon higher than the Model A Ford introduced in 1927. Bravo! If you still think this is an accomplishment take a look at SAE Internationalâ€™s Supermileage studies. They run a contest every year to see who can engineer a vehicle with the highest gas mileage. The biggest loser in this competition produced a car that can get 198 miles per gallon. The car made by the 2007 winner could drive 1,541 miles on a single gallon of gas. Now even if we can argue that those cars are expiremental and donâ€™t provide room for groceries or even a CD player, it is still enough to make us ponder the U.S.â€™s status as technological innovators of environmental stewardship.
To top it all off, the Bush administration is using these paltry standards as an excuse to deny California the right to cap its CO2 emissions. The California law requires new automakers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle tailpipes by 30% by 2016.
In the past, the California standards have paved the way for other states to follow behind with stricter standards. But now the EPA is arguing that California was granted those waivers because their state had special circumstances and the U.S. needs to have a singular, federal standard (So much for the Republicans as the party promoting statesâ€™ rights). With global warming threatening to drop a world of hurt on the whole planet, the EPA says this hardly applies only to California. No matter that this was a bill passed in 2002, long before the national discussion of such standards. No matter that the EPA has historically granted fifty such waivers to California and never once denied them.
Stephen L. Johnson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, put it this way, â€œThe Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution â€” not a confusing patchwork of state rules.â€ Or to put it totally the same way, David McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said, â€œEnhancing energy security and improving fuel economy are priorities to all automakers, but a patchwork quilt of inconsistent and competing fuel economy programs at the state level would only have created confusion, inefficiency, and uncertainty for automakers and consumers.â€ What a remarkable coincidence that couldnâ€™t possibly be explained by the EPA taking their cues from an oil lobbyistâ€™s press release!
In fact, both journalists and politicians are making the claim that the energy lobby allowed the government to proceed on their new emissions standards in exchange for a denial of Californiaâ€™s claim.
According to the L.A. Times:
Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the state Air Resources Board, said the California standards, which are scheduled to begin to take effect in 2009, could be met by auto companies with existing technology. So far, she said, 12 states have chosen to adopt Californiaâ€™s standards, pending a waiver approval. Others are in the process of doing so. If all 50 states adopted Californiaâ€™s law, it would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions by 1.4 gigatons, about twice what the federal standards would achieve by then, Nichols said.
So now Barbera Boxer, (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has subpoenaed the EPA to provide a better reason and they have replied with a box full of censored paperwork. Apparently such top secret info cannot be entrusted to the U.S. Congress. Oh and Governor Schwarzenegger has made it very clear that California is suing the EPA. Who said politics is boring?
So, in summary, our government must get the permission of the auto/oil industry to pass even the most pitiful legislation. And to get such permission, they must stab another hole in the lifeboat on this sinking ship.