Automakers are ramping up their PR effort to persuade states not to adopt California’s auto emission standards, which they fear will survive the Bush administration’s latest monkey wrench. But their arguments are as silly as ever:

Dave McCurdy, chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers … said the California-inspired initiative would result in a "patchwork quilt of inconsistent and competing fuel economy programs" that would lead to "confusion, inefficiency, and uncertainty for automakers and consumers."

Is this supposed to persuade any of those wavering states? For one thing, it’s not true, and for another, why should states care if it is?

It’s not true in that states adopting Cali’s standard will represent over half the U.S. population. Cali’s standard will become the dominant standard. There will also be, in remaining states, a lower standard.

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That’s two standards, not some sort of bewildering "patchwork." Two. And guess what? If automakers create cars that meet the tougher standard, they’ll also meet the looser standard. So how are the standards "competing"? How will they make automakers inefficient? Where do the confusion and uncertainty come in? It might be a tough target to meet, especially at first, but I don’t see why it should be so difficult to understand. It ain’t rocket science.

Even if McCurdy’s points were valid — even if Cali’s standard would pose a serious obstacle to American automakers — why is that supposed to be a dispositive argument in states outside of Michigan? It’s not exactly politically correct to say it, I guess, but relative to the welfare of their own citizens and the health of the world’s atmosphere, why should other states particularly care about the fate of American automakers? They’ll get good cars one way or the other. Plenty of foreign automakers have assembly plants in the U.S. anyway, so there will still be jobs. A particular class of blue collar worker in Michigan might go through a rough transition, but people are going through rough transitions all over the place, as we speak.

It baffles me that some industries think they are special, that they should be protected from those mean ol’ forces of progress, that they are delicate flowers whose integrity must be preserved at all costs.

It’s call "creative destruction," folks. Look it up.

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