Obama's lead on fuel economy, Ray LaHood, will sort politics from policy in this high stakes issue.
Facing a Monday deadline for written comments to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding its proposal for the first national greenhouse gas reporting rule, lobbying efforts by special interest groups are intensifying. Tied up in this issue is whether EPA will grant a waiver that will allow California and 13 states to bypass federal fuel economy regulations. Since this California coalition accounts for 40% of the new vehicles sold in the U.S., the stakes are high for automakers, environmentalists and new car buyers alike. EPA will hold public hearings on April 6 and 7, and it says it will consider written comments submitted with the same weight as the oral arguments presented.
In question are the types of vehicles you will be allowed to buy, where you can buy them, and maybe even how much more they will cost. Critics say if the waiver is granted, some vehicles won’t be available in the stricter states, though consumers might buy them elsewhere and move them into banned areas, as many California dealers believe will happen, providing a boon for dealers in Oregon and Nevada. The exemptions for wealthy buyers in the California bill are also troubling. Also affected will be auto industry jobs, and the location of those jobs — here or overseas – in the midst of an economic collapse.
The communications being sent out of Washington are typical of the now almost universal approach to such conflicts. One e-mail exhortation begins simply enough saying that only days remain “for citizens to demand that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allow states to legally regulate global warming pollution from cars.
“At UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists) we are doing everything we can right now to ensure the voices of tens of thousands of concerned citizens are heard in Washington. If you care about a healthy environment and want more consumer choices for clean cars, this is your chance to make a real difference,” says Michelle Robinson, Director, Clean Vehicles Program. (more…)