Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Charles Krauthammer compares it to a doctor strangling a patient while simultaneously administering oxygen. That’s what happened yesterday when President Obama granted the EPA the authority to review California’s request to have stricter emissions and fuel-efficiency standards on the auto industry. To point out the obvious, none of our automakers are based in California.

Congress has already established federal standards for emissions and fuel-efficiency. This was done in 2007 under a Democrat congress. But California, and a few other states, wanted stricter standards so they applied for a waiver from the rules to impose their stricter standards. Bush refused, stating that federal standards should be federal and any changes should come from Congress to avoid undue burden on the auto industry. Obama has reversed that policy which now basically allows California – one state in 50 – to set the federal standard.

The auto industry says the latest move will be quite damaging to their industry because they will have to comply with two sets of rules. This means more cost, which means more expensive vehicles, which means more difficulty competing in a competitive market, which means sales will suffer. The US auto industry is already on the brink of collapse. They have been given billions in bailout money, most of it already gone, and they will no doubt be asking for more. The new rules just may end up being the death blow, should California get its way.

The double-speak is obvious, and perplexing. On one hand, Obama says the auto industry is vital to our economy and should get bailout money. Then he signs an order that effectively handcuffs them at a time when they can’t afford to be handcuffed. If bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler wasn’t inevitable before, it certainly is now.

I don’t think Obama is a dumb man, so I’m certain that he understands this. That tells me that he is so committed to the “undeniable” truth of human-induced climate change that he is willing to sacrifice major US industries to combat it. Which tells me that rejoining the Kyoto Treaty will be part of his agenda. Talk about economic disaster. In a time of recession, crippling US industry with Kyoto restrictions would be the financial equivalent of Hurricane Katrina. Hopefully that won’t happen for a while.

Bill Kristol suggested a simpler solution. Just increase the gas tax and offset it with cuts in payroll or income tax. That’s the more common sense method to decrease fuel use, thus cutting emissions and oil consumption. And even though Obama says his order is a step towards reducing foreign oil dependence, he has yet to make any effort or suggest support to increase domestic production, ie “drill, baby, drill”.

Instead he chooses to eviscerate an auto industry that is already hemorrhaging wildly. Well, I guess he said it best…”I won. I am the President”.


Anonymous said...


One thing about reducing emissions is that regardless of its effect, or lack thereof on the global climate, reducing emissions tends to have a positive effect on the local air quality.

I have lived in the Denver metro are ofr more than 30 years and have seen the positiveeffect of reduced emisiions.


Anonymous said...

Still much talk about Wind & Solar to reduce our Dependence on OPEC.

Three thousand miles of new Power Lines...

but nothing on Clean Nuclear Power Generation, Our Abundant Natural Gas, or Off-Shore Drilling...or the need for new Oil Refineries.

Talk is cheap. reb

Dan Trabue said...

But California, and a few other states, wanted stricter standards so they applied for a waiver from the rules to impose their stricter standards.

This, to me, seems to be as much a States Rights issue as an environmental. I fully support the notion that STATES ought to be able to set their own pollution standards for themselves. I'm a little surprised that so many "conservative" types are opposed to this, as they generally (in theory) would be states rights defenders.

John Washburn said...

Dan, I wouldn’t have a problem with Californistan implementing their own standards IF that state were willing to bear the cost for those standards. So Detroit would ship cars to them that complied with federal standards, and the state would then have to find a way to modify those cars to fit state standards. That would be fine with me. Then the people of California would pay for it. But that’s not what’s happening. They’re essentially demanding that Detroit produce cars to fit their standards as well as all other standards nationwide. That’s not practical, and it affects all of us through higher prices. It goes beyond states rights in that it imposes their own rules on people like me who don’t live there.

Dan Trabue said...

You're wanting the State to interfere with private enterprise and modify cars??

Look, I'm sure you agree that the People of any region have a right to decide for themselves how much pollution they will allow in their region, right? IF a company wants to build a factory that spills toxins into the air and streams, the people have a right to say, "No." or at least say, "Well, only at THIS specified level." Right?

It's natural law. Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose. We have a right and a righteous responsibility to regulate pollution and polluting devices, yes? Surely we agree on these points.

If I invented a leaf blower that ran on uranium and left radioactivity in its wake at deadly levels, you'd agree that a locality, a state or the feds all could legitimately say, "Hold on there!" Right?

Well, the feds HAVE created a level and righteously so. The good people of California want to set that level higher, I reckon because they deem it in the best interests of their health, economy and common wealth. Who are the feds to say that California can't do that??

Reconsider, John. I can't believe that conservatives would truly be opposed to the people of a local place deciding for themselves rules for their own state.

Say it ain't so?

They’re essentially demanding that Detroit produce cars to fit their standards as well as all other standards nationwide.

Isn't what is actually happening that they're NOT "making" Detroit do anything. BUT, if Detroit (or my nuclear leaf-blowing company) wants to sell their cars in their state, they are requesting they meet certain minimal levels. Detroit is free to NOT sell in California. It's still a free market, just one with reasonable regulations. Or, at least what the People of California deem reasonable.

I agree with them. Hooray for Obama for striking a blow for States Rights!

John Washburn said...

"You're wanting the State to interfere with private enterprise and modify cars??"

Why not? They're the ones demanding these new standards so they should be the ones responsible for the modification.

"Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose."

Right. And they're right to impose strict emissions standards ends at my wallet.

"Isn't what is actually happening that they're NOT "making" Detroit do anything."

If that were true then I'd be okay with it, but their bill would have to include some provision for modifying the cars on their own rather than requiring the cars to be compliant right off the assembly line. Make that clear distinction and the people of California have my support. How else would they enforce it? Are they gonna shut down all dealerships that don't comply?

Dan Trabue said...

Do you not think a local state has the right to ban a product if they think that product dangerous?

Dan Trabue said...

Dan said:

"Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose."

To which John replied:

Right. And they're right to impose strict emissions standards ends at my wallet.

Actually, I don't believe this to be the case. I don't believe you believe this to be the case.

A people have a right to set pollution standards, don't you agree to this? You DO agree that the people of a local city or a state have a right and even an obligation to say, "No, factory owner, you CAN'T pour mercury into our water supply," right? We've created a law that outlaws (or limits, in most places) doing such. You DO agree that a people have the right to do so? EVEN IF it means that the factory has to pay more to NOT pollute?

We are not an anarchy where people can do as they wish, willy nilly, consequences be damned. We are a republic where representatives of the people CAN make laws and sometimes those laws might impact the cost of doing business, but that's just that: The cost of doing business.

I really think you agree with me on this, I think EVERYONE except for possibly a few short-sighted anarchists/nihilists agree with me on this.

John Washburn said...

Dan, your analogy doesn't quite fit. Of course they can regulate pollution all they want, IF the factories are in their own backyard. But what the Cali folks are doing is the same as demanding a factory here in Texas curb pollution beyond federal standards because their own state has a problem with smog. What does that have to do with me?

Our automakers are based in Michigan. They meet the national standard, but Cali wants them to build cars especially for them because they have a smog problem. Such a demand affects us all via higher prices. Seems a little arrogant to me.

The easy answer is to require California dealers to retrofit all cars brought into the state to meet the state's standards. But they will NEVER do that because it hurts the state's economy. No. They'd rather the rest of America shoulder that burden.

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, we agree states can regulate pollution. How about devices (such as cars) that emit pollution and which can be quite deadly in other ways? I'm sure you agree they can be regulated, too, right?

I don't know that Cali wants the automakers to make cars especially for them. They just want the cars that automakers DO sell in California to meet certain basic standards, as is their right. If Detroit doesn't want to meet those standards, someone else will. It's the free market and the price of doing business.

Auntyem said...

I think it is time to wean ourselves off gas-run cars and look for something cleaner. One reason I left California is that despite the emissions regulations there, Silicon Valley and the LA Basin were so smoggy it was affecting my health.

The next step that California might have to take is what Beijing and London did---prevent cars from coming into the city during certain days.

Why do we have to remain the slave of Saudi Aramco? Just because so many well-off Americans have that much of their stock in their portfolios? We have to remember that another reason not to depend on foreign oil is that Saudi money provides weapons to some insurgents. BUT we don't need to turn around and tap our reserves of oil, or we'll never wean ourselves off our polluting cars. As the population here grows, we might end up with smog from sea to shining sea.

Port Orchard, WA