A Range Of Reactions To Obama's EPA Directive

January 27, 2009

As everyone knows by now, President Obama gave the wheels of change a big ol' spin yesterday when he directed the EPA to review California's request to pass auto emissions and fuel efficiency standards tougher than those of the feds. And as everyone also knows, reaction to the announcement has been mixed. Here are a few of the (admittedly predictable) opinions we've come across so far:

  • To no one's surprise, incoming NADA chairman John McEleney came out strongly against Obama's announcement: "We hope that the president and the EPA administrator realize that a single national fuel economy standard is smarter than a patchwork of state regulations that will only further endanger our industry." That sounds moderately tame, but McEleney went on to insist that the U.S. congress conduct hearings to determine the impact that state-by-state regs would have on the industry--especially in terms of jobs lost. Not that U.S. automakers are in a position to demand much from congress these days. [AutoNews, sub req'd, though you can read a verbatim match of that statement from NADA's VP of Legislative Affairs, David Regan, right over here.]
  • Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, announced her unmitigated support of the directive:  "[President Obama] is moving full-steam-ahead on energy efficiency, not despite but because of the fragile state of the economy." We're going to assume that the "steam" reference is an energy metaphor and not a veiled suggestion that we return to steam cars. [PRNewswire]
  • In a press release, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers stated: "Today in the U.S. there are three voices on fuel economy/CO2 -- NHTSA, EPA and CA -- and each has different standards, different structures and different timelines. Automakers seek a federal-state solution that provides us with compliance clarity and one national standard." Logical and rational and not too whiny, right? Well played, AAM. [PRNewswire]
  • Automakers themselves were much blander in their responses, with GM saying, "We look forward to contributing to a comprehensive policy discussion that takes into account the development pace of new technologies, alternative fuels and market and economic factors." Toyota seemed a little more gung-ho: "We look at the president’s order today as an opportunity to engage with all the agencies and stakeholders toward a program that optimizes the nation’s environmental and economic objectives." But both were clearly written by PR staffers who could probably force a smile during a colonoscopy. [NYTimes]
  • So far, the best commentary has come from Daniel Howes. As usual, he spews a lot of bitterness laced with copious amounts of hot air, but to his credit, he makes several good points, including: "It wasn't stiffer Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules or the greenhouse gas emissions regs that reduced national fuel consumption and spiked demand for small, more fuel-efficient cars -- the twin goals of the environmentalists. It was the price of fuel, a price that was, incidentally, paid by everyone who chose to drive." (Similar sentiments were expressed by Alex Taylor III over at CNN Money.) That said, Howes does seem to offer a backhanded compliment to Obama for dragging "recalcitrant automakers kicking and screaming into the 21st century." So there's that, right?  [DetNews]

As usual, we'd love for you to mouth off, too. Surely you can hold your own with (or against) these folks, right?

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