I attended a luncheon where Michael J. Stanton, President and CEO of the Association of American Manufacturers, Inc (AIAM) was the speaker. AIAM represents 14 firms who import and/or build vehicles in the U.S. The biggest, by far, are Toyota, Honda and Nissan, followed by Subaru, Kia, Hyundai and several others, including Ferrari. As Stanton stated, "Our member firms produce 31 percent of the vehicles made in the US and 40 percent of those sold." Stanton acknowledged that the new law will raise fuel economy standards to 35 MPG by 2020 which will decrease CO2 emissions compared to current (that is, 32 year old) legislation. Sadly though, if signing the Energy Bill was a victory and something to celebrate, that celebration is mainly happening in Detroit and Farm Belt corporate offices. It will also resound in the executive suites of OPEC member nations.

Mr. Stanton's celebratory comments extended to the EPA decision to not grant the California CO2 waiver. The AIAM is apparently satisfied with some CO2 reduction but not too much. He raised the canard that it is not good business to have two U.S. standards for fuel economy. However, he did not mention that AIAM is already busily responding to EU and Asian fuel efficiency standards or that, if there is to be one US standard, why not choose the tighter one - the California standard that 16 other states have already agreed to accept - worth about 43 MPG by 2016? (Actually, the info packets distributed included a comment that 95 percent of the vehicles made by AIAM members already meet current CA standards.) Or, since CO2 is a world-wide problem, why not combine all the various continental standards into one global standard so that no nation's drivers overly burden the world's atmosphere. After all, we all share the same air. Finally, if we cease meeting different national standards, the combined engineering power should be able to reach a very high but reasonable efficiency standard.

I still think that driving is mainly about getting somewhere comfortably using the fewest resources. Improving fuel economy seems to be a wise investment in keeping the US auto industry alive. If we make them for a world market who knows, maybe we could export a few?


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