The Edsel: symbol of an indulgent Detroit. We may never see its like again. (Photo by Bill Barber/Flickr)
Is there any doubt that the Bush Administration is long gone? The Obama White House is issuing dramatic new rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. The new standards, to go into full effect by 2016, call for cars to get 39 mpg and trucks 30 mpg -- that's a major improvement over the current, long-outdated standard (27.5 mpg for cars, 24 for trucks).
The auto industry has been meeting privately with officials from the Obama White House and Sacramento to try and reach consensus, which has now apparently been achieved. Why was California involved? Because it enacted its own tailpipe greenhouse gas law in 2002, and fought the Bush Administration (which refused to grant a necessary waiver) over its implementation.
As I reported back in January, "Sources in two environmental groups said that a private meeting will be held in Los Angeles ... involving midlevel auto executives, state regulators and environmental leaders, aimed at working out a compromise in the state law (shared by 14 other states and the District of Columbia) that all parties could support. Without such a compromise, automakers, fearful that a tough greenhouse gas law would restrict them to building only small cars, could head to court."
The carmakers, represented by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, sued California, claiming they wanted a single, federal standard on fuel economy. But this is a climate standard, isn't it? Well, to effectively regulate greenhouse gas you have to regulate fuel economy-- there's no other practical way.
Now they're getting a federal standard similar to the California law, and presumably they'll accept the fact that it requires tough choices when it comes to ordering new models. The age of the SUV truly is over.
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