Sunday, April 5, 2009

Obama Lowers Sights on Fuel Economy

Can it be? Did our environmental hawk of a president just propose lower fuel economy standards for 2011 than the villain Bush, whose rapacious desire to destroy all that is good and green pales only beside that of The Dark Lord Sauron? Well, yes, that is exactly what happened. The Bush recommendations of 2008 were indeed a slightly more ambitious target, but they were put on the shelf until the scale of the auto bailout could be established.

Apparently, the administration is either making a concession to automakers, or else a quantitative judgement about their capabilities. Trade-offs like these are the wages of politics, the art of the possible. One of the most encouraging signs from the president's 2008 campaign was the candidate's willingness to put supporters on notice that even in the best of all possible worlds, tough decisions would have to be made that might not correspond precisely with the fondest wishes of every single last individual, or interest group.

But environmentalists will have none of it. The more or less blindlingly minute deviation from an otherwise uncompromising agenda represents a jillion tons of carbon waste belching into the atmosphere. Perhaps sensing that cap and trade will be one of the first casualties in the battle for sweeping health care reform, the green lobby is apoplectic. Where is the president's committment to reducing emissions? Something has got to put restraints on how much fuel is getting burned.

Exactly. Put that together with the removal of key revenue items from the president's budget by Congressional gatekeepers, and you are left with one thing.

Say hello to gas tax.

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