Auto makers finally face higher fuel efficiency standards in the US.
After years of holding out against anything to do with climate change, President George Bush finally signed into law an energy bill establishing higher fuel-economy standards for new cars and other conservation measures. And then 8 hours later he completely sabotaged states like California that are trying to go faster.
The bill Bush signed at 10:25 AM yesterday requires the auto industry to reduce fuel consumption in most cars and light trucks by 40 percent, raising the fuel efficiency standard to 35 miles per gallon (15 kilometers per liter) by 2020.
Bush described the bill as “a major step toward reducing our dependence on oil, confronting global climate change, expanding the production of renewable fuels and giving future generations of our country a nation that is stronger, cleaner and more secure.”
The White House claimed it went part of the way to fulfilling promises made at the environmental conference in Bali last week.
Then barely eight hours later, at 6:30pm (conveniently past deadline for the evening news cycle) Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Stephen L. Johnson held a phone briefing to reveal that the EPA had denied California a waiver under the clean air act that would have allowed it to regulate carbon dioxide.
According to EPA administrator Johnson, the proposed California standard would have required 33 mpg by 2016. The bill Bush signed is for 35 by 2020, but contains significant loopholes as well.
If the E.P.A. had agreed to the waiver, California and other states would have enacted rules requiring the auto companies to achieve a 30 percent reduction of emissions by cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles by 2016. The rules were set to begin taking effect with 2009 model year vehicles, some of which go on sale as soon as next month.
Twelve states — Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — representing almost half the US population – have followed California’s lead and adopted these emissions standards, and Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Utah were likely to do so in the near future.
So this is the new strategy for Bush on climate that we saw in Bali, and now here at home – he can no longer avoid engaging, so the new tack is engage and gum up the works as much as possible.
Presidential candidates take note – we see through this charade.