To the extent that somebody in the auto industry could be the darling of environmentalists, that somebody is William Clay Ford, Jr., chair and CEO of Ford Motor Co. Ford, who has earned kudos in the past for his eco-friendly outlook but has more recently drawn barbed comments from greenies, said yesterday that America’s love affair with the automobile could be threatened by the industry’s shoddy environmental record. Speaking at an automotive conference in Michigan, Ford also said he wanted to “lower the temperature” of the oft-heated relationship between carmakers and the state of California, which recently passed landmark legislation limiting carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. “If you remember, in California, people used to write songs about T-Birds and Corvettes,” said Ford. “Today, they write regulations.” Ford said he wanted the industry to address environmental problems through technology. The speech was the most environmentally minded one Ford has given since taking the helm last fall of the company founded by his great-grandfather.

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