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Posted by on Jun 25, 2007 in At TMV | 4 comments

A Small Step?

To say that Tom Friedman does not exactly like the energy bill that recently passed the US Senate would be quite an understatement:

When you watch a baby being born, after a difficult pregnancy, it is so painful and bloody for the mother it is always hard to tell the truth and say, “Gosh, that baby is really ugly.” But that’s how I feel about the energy legislation passed (and not passed) by the Senate last week.

The whole Senate energy effort only reinforced my feelings that we’re in a green bubble — a festival of hot air by the news media, corporate America and presidential candidates about green this and green that, but, when it comes to actually doing something hard to bring about a green revolution at scale — and if you don’t have scale on this you have nothing — we wimp out. Climate change is not a hoax. The hoax is that we are really doing something about it.

No question, it’s great news that the Democrat-led Senate finally stood up to the automakers, and to the Michigan senators, and said, “No more — no more assisted suicide of the U.S. auto industry by the U.S. Congress. We’re passing the first bill since 1975 that mandates an increase in fuel economy.” If the Senate bill, which now has to go through the House, becomes law, automakers will have to boost the average mileage of new cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, compared with about 25 miles per gallon today.

But before you celebrate, pay attention to some fine print in the Senate bill. If the Transportation Department determines that the fuel economy goal for any given year is not “cost-effective” — that is, too expensive for the car companies to meet — it can ease the standard. That loophole has to be tightened by the House, which takes up this legislation next week.

But even this new mileage standard is not exactly world leading. The European Union is today where we want to be in 2020, around 35 miles per gallon, and it is committed to going well over 40 m.p.g. by 2012. Ditto Japan.

Obviously, that is quite sad. On the other hand, what matters right now is that America is actually doing something. For a long time, Europe was willing to act, Europe showed that it was willing to do something about global warming, and now, finally, America joins Europe, at least to a degree.

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • Sam

    Is it just me or does it seem like the US Auto industry is trying to go the way of the dinosaurs? They can bitch all they want to about health care costs ruining their bottom line, but 3 years into $3 gas prices and GM is still pushing Hummers while Priuses are seem to be every other car on the road. Meanwhile they are trying to figure out how to get back on top of Toyota.

  • DLS

    I’ve said it before: a low-risk thing for the Big 3 to try is to bring here to the USA smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles (some of which are attractively styled) and just try selling them here in the USA. They already sell well overseas; why not just try them, already existing vehicles, here in the USA?

  • In the world of the Big Three engineers and technology are nothing. They are the floor mats to be stepped on and wipe your shoes on. All that matters is marketing and continuing to attempt to continue a macho car culture that values nothing but power, speed and size. This is what has contributed to their profit margins in the past and they adapt to new realities too slowly to admit that continuing this attitude will doom them.

  • DLS

    In the world of the Big Three engineers and technology are nothing. They are the floor mats to be stepped on and wipe your shoes on.

    A lot of engineers elsewhere will say the same.

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