The Washington Post had an article yesterday on the House fuel economy deal that is quite good in doling out cheers and jeers — good except for two sentences. Let’s start with the cheers.
The article quotes NRDC rightly praising Pelosi for being steadfast with the Senate’s 35 mpg target and Dingell, too, for:
… telling the automakers a year ago that they were going to have to accept a mileage improvement. He bargained hard for trying to make it less, but he deserves credit for coming around and agreeing.
The article also has fascinating back story on how Japanese car manufacturer Nissan “struck out on its own to lobby Capitol Hill for fuel standards that were in some ways stricter than what other automakers wanted.” A Nissan Sr. VP “said the company decided early to advocate tough fuel-economy standards as part of a company-wide effort to become more eco-friendly.”
Ungreen GM and Ford worked hard to kill a 35-mpg deal, and so did supposedly green Toyota. Google “Toyota greenwash” to see how people feel about this. [Note to Toyota: Why not have lobbying consistent with your eco-branding?]
So what are the two sentences that get the Post a thumbs down?
The legislation represents a major setback for the auto industry. But without Dingell’s seal of approval, the energy package could have come unraveled, and the automakers’ pain might have been greater.
Shame on the Post for simply buying into auto industry propaganda in the first sentence. Why is mandated higher fuel economy a “major setback”? Many of us have long argued that the U.S. car industry would have benefited from higher fuel economy standards years ago — since it would have forced them to build the kind of cars people want in an era of high gasoline prices and growing concern about global warming. This study by Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute came to the same conclusion: higher fuel economy would boost jobs and market share.
The second sentence is very confusing. The only interpretation consistent with the first sentence is that, absent Dingell, the legislation would have contained some additional provisions the car companies didn’t like — but if the energy package became unraveled, there might have been no CAFE increase at all. In any case, it is tiresome to see the MSM buy into the notion that this all causes the automakers great “pain” — at the risk of showing my age, I am reminded of Dr. Smith’s oft-repeated whine: “Oh, the pain … the pain of it all!“
Know this, car companies: we’ll ultimately need much higher fuel-economy standards than 35 mpg to stave off catastrophic global warming.
This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.