Tag Archives: CAFE standards

Major Tailpipe Emissions Breakthrough; Will Arnold Run And Hide From His Own Election?

The Obama Administration is poised to announce a major deal on tailpipe emissions standards, bringing the whole country under one federal standard that fairly closely appropriates what California passed in 2002 and has been trying to get a waiver from the feds about ever since.

President Obama will announce as early as Tuesday that he will combine California’s tough new auto-emissions rules with the existing corporate average fuel economy standard to create a single new national standard, the officials said. As a result, cars and light trucks sold in the United States will be roughly 30 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016.

The White House would not divulge details, but environmental advocates and industry officials briefed on the program said that the president would grant California’s longstanding request that its tailpipe emissions standards be imposed nationally. That request was denied by the Bush administration but has been under review by top Obama administration officials since January.

But Mr. Obama is planning to go further, putting in place new mileage requirements to be administered by the Department of Transportation that would match the stringency of the California program.

Under the new standard, the national fleet mileage rule for cars would be roughly 42 miles a gallon in 2016. Light trucks would have to meet a fleet average of slightly more than 26.2 miles a gallon by 2016.

This is a major victory for California, as well as a step forward for all sides of this debate.  Auto companies, who apparently signed off on the deal, can now have certainty about their future production needs.  The states can get out of court and provide a better environment for their constituents.  And we all can breathe cleaner air while using less oil.

But the hilarious postscript must be highlighted.  Politico reports that this deal will be announced tomorrow, with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in attendance.  As CapAlert notes, there’s just one problem: California has a statewide election tomorrow, and Arnold is not an absentee voter.  Yes, the Governor, the head cheerleader and supporter of the special election, might miss out on voting in it (although, if the announcement takes place early enough, he could be reasonably expected to make it home before the polls close at 8pm).

You know Arnold can’t resist the lure of the spotlight.  And better for him to stand at the side of a popular President than try in vain to rescue a flawed set of ballot measures which have probably already failed, given the 2 million vote-by-mail ballots already cast.  It probably appeals to him to leave town on Election Day and hide out in Washington.  That’s par for the course for him, failing to ever accept responsibility for the damage he’s caused.

…in fact, Arnold will get an emergency absentee ballot and miss his own special election.  Too perfect.

Tomorrow – Toward A New Energy Future

As long as we’re talking about what we’re all doing this weekend, I will be your intrepid reporter tomorrow, live from the Wadsworth Theater in Los Angeles at the Presidential Forum on Global Warming and Our Energy Future, sponsored by the California League of Conservation Voters, the enviro website Grist and PRI’s “Living On Earth” radio program.  Grist will have a live webcast of the forum tomorrow at 2:00pm PT.  You can find it here.  I’m expecting to liveblog the event at Calitics as well.

Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich are scheduled to attend, and speak for a half-hour on the environmental and energy proposals they would support as President.  The good news is that practically all of our Democratic candidates, even the ones who aren’t attending, have put out strong policies on fighting global warming and expanding renewable energy, from Chris Dodd’s corporate carbon tax to Bill Richardson’s ambitious CAFE standard porposal (50MPG) to Barack Obama’s 100% auction for a cap-and-trade system, where polluters would have to buy their carbon credits and not be given them.  Clinton and Edwards have also put out bold proposals in this arena, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about them tomorrow.

One thing you all can do TODAY is take action on the imminent federal energy bill.  There are three planks that everyone would like to see in it; a federal renewable energy standard that would mandate a healthy percentage of all electricity come from renewables like solar and wind; tax incentives for renewable energy, both for corporations AND for individuals who put solar panels on their house (this would be vital is California is to reach its One Million Solar Roofs Initiative), and a major increase in CAFE standards.  I believe that the first two would be signed by the President; he signed similiar legislation as the governor of Texas, and now Texas has MORE wind power than California.  Environment California is asking people to email Speaker Pelosi today and ask her to stand strong on the federal energy bill.

UPDATE: This ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is a positive step, requiring the Bush Administration to force SUVs and light trucks to meet the already-meager federal CAFE standards.  This would close a loophole the automakers have been using for a while.

Loretta Sanchez And The Defense Machine Hustle

As usual, it would be better to quote this Digby post verbatim, but let me just give you the relevant section from the article in question:

(Loretta) Sanchez, Orange County’s only Democratic member of Congress, voted in 2002 against giving President Bush authorization to invade Iraq. More recently she voted to begin pulling troops out within 90 days.

Tuesday night Sanchez said she could not support the protesters (who want to cut funding for the war) because the $145 billion in Iraq war funding was in the same bill that would provide money to build the C-17 aircraft in California.

“I never voted for this war,” she said. But “I’m not going to vote against $2.1 billion for C-17 production, which is in California. That is just not going to happen.”

Sanchez has been consistently against the war, and she cannot be fully blamed for protecting her constituents.  But she’s constrained by the fact that a major military contractor in her district has a gun to her head.  Particularly in California, but all over the country really, the massing of the war machine has a definite impact on policy.  They put their factories in all these different districts, so that shuttering an obsolete weapons system will be met with enormous resistance.  This ensures that you can never decrease military spending or even keep it the same.  And eventually, all these systems have to be justified.  Through war.

This is approximately why the nightly news has all of these ads for Lockheed Martin and Boeing on them.  I can’t buy a 757, but Boeing can keep that news network in line by threatening to drop their ads if they stray from the party line.

Here’s Digby:

It’s just another way that big money distorts our politics. Sanchez’s statement makes it quite clear that the “power of the purse” is not about stopping anything. It’s about funding all kinds of things that have been set up over many years to keep politicians like Sanchez in line. She really does have to answer to her constituents — many of whom make their living off the military industrial complex dime. You can’t blame her.

I don’t even think public financing will stop this.  You’re talking about thousands of constituents’ jobs.  And California embodies this problem as much as any state in the union.  It’s something we really have to think about.  How do we, after 60 years of massive military buildup, put this genie back in the bottle?

(This isn’t limited to defense, by the way, John Dingell’s attempt to upend CAFE standard legislation preferred by the Speaker comes from him protecting his constituents, just as resistance to gas taxes comes from legislators protecting theirs.)