The Obama administration and vehicle emission standards.
I am quite proud of the fact that California leads the nation in stringent laws regarding vehicle emissions. Of course we have the worst air of any state in our nation. When BushCo tried to blow off Cali’s newest set of regulations in 2007, Cali and 12 other states took it to the courts and won the right to set their own vehicle emissions standards. The EPA had always, prior to BushCo, allowed us to set our own standards, much to the chagrin of the auto manufacturing industry. The industry has a long history of fighting any changes to vehicle emission and fuel standard policies within the state of California.
Then Obama came into the oval office and immediately changed the EPA rules to make it easier for states to set their own emission levels and fuel-efficiency standards.
Yesterday, he announced a national change to ‘the rules’. From a news account of the announcement:
The standards, which still require final approval from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department, would force carmakers to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions in new cars and trucks by 30 percent and build vehicles that average 35.5 miles per gallon.
The changes would take effect in 2012 and would be fully implemented by 2016.
The length of time to get this ball rolling bothers me, but it is what it is..a start in the right direction. The changes will also jack up the cost of new vehicles by as much as $1300 but it will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil from being used by Americans according to administration officials. The changes will also lead to a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide and other emissions by 2016.
An LA Times writeup on the automakers acceptance of these changes is interesting in that it points out how hard Obama had to wrangle and fight the auto industry to go along with his plan. I feel fairly confident that part of the reason they accepted it is because of the bailout money handed over to two of the Big Three american automakers. In the end, 10 automakers accepted the changes.
Salon has a piece up about the changes and what they entail. It’s also a small historical perspective on the electric car and how the auto industry has fucked us on this front time and time again. A small blurb:
The buzz is intoxicating. Yet for 100 years the electric car has shimmered on the horizon, like a mirage, always fleetingly out of reach. Today, even with advances in battery technology, as the major automakers unveil their forthcoming models, they’re still hedging their bets that the internal combustion engine’s glory days aren’t over.
“The technology is always down the road; the better battery is always in the future,” says Michael Schiffer, an anthropology professor at the University of Arizona, and author of “Taking Charge: The Electric Automobile in America.” “People have been promising better batteries for over a century.” Indeed, in 1909, a magazine advertisement for Baker Electric Vehicles touted the revolutionary new cars as “the Aristocrats of Motordom,” which would go “100 Miles on One Charge of the Batteries.” A century later, in 2009, the Mini Cooper’s electric cousin the Mini E, now being leased in a pilot program to 450 drivers in New York, New Jersey and California, promises to go — you guessed it! — over 100 miles.
The auto industry will not go willingly into the future, take it to the bank. They might of all been standing with Obama smiling like the cat that ate the canary..but believe me..they are pissed.
But you know what? Fuck the Auto Industry. Fuck em hard. GM had a great little electric car called the EV-1. They crushed every single one of those cars into oblivion. Folks that owned an EV-1 and who now drive a Prius say the Prius is a step backward when compared to the EV-1. From the Salon article:
“It’s great to see a lot of electric cars are in the works now, but it’s hard to get excited about the Volt because G.M. had a great electric car, and they didn’t stand by it, they didn’t promote it,” says Spertus. “Why should I expect them to do anything different?” After G.M. took Spertus’ EV1 away, it charged her several thousand dollars for dents in it, despite the fact it was headed to the great auto-body shop in the sky.
Today Spertus, who is now working at Google, while taking a leave from Mills, drives a Toyota Prius, which she calls a “real step backward” from the EV1, since it’s only partially electric. “An American car company had a fantastic lead and threw it away,” she says.
That’s not only the view of one disgruntled car driver. Rick Wagoner, former CEO of G.M., fired by Obama in March, has said that his worst decision as CEO was “axing the EV1 electric-car program and not putting the right resources into hybrids.” Says Kirsch: “They should have taken the EV1 and turned it into the Volt 10 years ago. It’s 10 years late and $10 billion short.”
So I am happy but also not completely sold on the auto industry going along with all this ‘change’. They still have their lawsuit in the courts against Cali’s vehicle standards. They have refused to kill that suit up until now. Ford has said recently that the Obama Plan will kill them. From the LAT article:
A senior Ford executive said the company had run the numbers again and concluded it might not survive if it accepted the deal. If Ford pulled out, it would mean a major setback for two of President Obama’s signature goals — combating global warming and reducing the nation’s appetite for foreign oil.
Yet the near-collapse of the effort was a dramatic reminder of how hard it can be to break through years of stalemate and build a consensus for action on a problem that has pitted some of the country’s most powerful interests against each other.
So you will forgive me if my happiness is tempered by the knowledge that the automakers are always full of shit and always looking out for their bottom line. I know that somewhere down the road they will balk at some if not all of these changes. History bears this out. Just look at what GM did to the EV-1 and how hard people fought to keep those great little electric cars…all to no avail..as the people lost that fight.
I just hope we don’t lose this time. I want cleaner air and better mileage. I am willing to pay for those things even though I am on a fixed income. I hope everyone gets onboard with this.
But the pessimist in me says-Don’t get excited yet woman..there is plenty of time for this to plan to fail. 2016 is way down the friggin road..way down.
Crossposted at my group rant home, Sirens Chronicles.