The U.S. auto industry is doing an about-face on the environment. Sort of. A six-article opus in the New York Times today focuses on the steps the industry is taking to improve its environmental record, mostly due to the perception that green issues are becoming increasingly important to customers. But the automakers still protest U.S. actions to limit global warming, and although they didn’t clamor loudly against the Clinton administration’s recent proposal to lower tailpipe emissions, they remain opposed to any suggestion of raising fuel-efficiency standards. One article in the section profiles the new line-up of more enviro-friendly executives, focusing on media wunderkind Bill Ford Jr., the chair of Ford; another explores how it came to be that auto horsepower has gone up and up while auto fuel-efficiency has remained stagnant in recent years (giveaway hint: consumer demand); and others delve into the new types of technology coming down the road and the split personality of California, where people want to breathe clean air but still love their cars. The news section includes this whopper of fact: The 10 most fuel-efficient cars on the market together account for less than 1 percent of sales in the U.S.