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Obama Achieves Much-Needed Victory with CAFE Standards Plan

By May 20, 2009

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President Obama achieved a remarkable victory yesterday, and fulfilled a campaign promise, when he announced aggressive new fuel economy standards (i.e. CAFE standards) for cars and light trucks.

And he did it while surrounded by a coalition of smiling denizens from all factions of the car industry: union members, environmental activists, auto industry executives and elected officials, both Republican and Democratic.

Obama's national plan for more efficient fuel standards for vehicles, combined with stricter emissions standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is an extraordinary win/win measure for all Americans that will:

  • Lower greenhouse gases emitted into the environment, which will slow global warming
  • Reduce U.S. use of of oil and gas, which has an ever-shrinking supply and is nonrenewable
  • Reduce U.S. dependence on oil and gas imported from the Middle East and other foreign sources
  • Improve air quality, which improves public health

Once the American auto industry retools both its focus and factories to produce more energy-efficient, envrionmentally friendly vehicles, I have no doubt that doing the right thing will also prove to be profitable for automakers.

And as the President pointed out, the additional vehicle costs ($1,300) for increased fuel efficiency are more than offset by consumer savings on fuel ($2,800 over 3 years for the average driver).

Vehicle emissions are the top source of global warming-inducing gases in the U.S., counting "for more than one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in this country," per the New York Times.

To refresh yourself on the urgent necessity to combat global warming, read my quick-reading overviews:

President Obama has faltered on many of his campaign promises, and suffered painful setbacks in fulfilling others. On the whole, Obama has disappointed me and most progressives, thus far, with his timid lack of resolve on innumerable issues that candidate Obama professed to support...

But I must give the President his due on this one: Obama's national plan for greater vehicle fuel efficiency standards is bold and constructive, and his administration has masterfully negotiated enthusiastic buy-in by all of the widely disparate players in the U.S. auto industry.

Bravo, Mr, President! Now, how about applying some of that principled, visionary resolve to the greedy, ailing U.S. banking industry?

(Photo of President Obama and Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger on May 19, 2009: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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