Planet Gore

Standard California Emissions

Today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required) picks up where Henry Payne left off yesterday, noting that even the UAW opposes Democratic efforts to allow California to impose stringent new standards on the U.S. automotive industry.

The union is urging members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to vote against legislation sponsored by the panel’s chairwoman, Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.), that would effectively overturn the Bush administration’s decision in December denying California permission to regulate [GHG] emissions.
In a letter Monday to Sen. Boxer, the union’s legislative director, Alan Reuther, condemned the measure as “misguided” and said California’s approach to controlling automobile emissions of carbon dioxide — the main gas believed to contribute to global warming — unfairly discriminates against companies whose product mix is skewed toward pickup trucks, sport-utility vehicles and minivans.
“We think it would be very bad jobs-wise,” Mr. Reuther said in an interview. A spokesman for Sen. Boxer didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
The UAW’s move highlights an awkward political problem confronting Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as the likely Republican nominee, John McCain.
Sens. Clinton and Obama have endorsed Sen. Boxer’s bill, and Sen. McCain has expressed support for California’s efforts to control greenhouse gases. But all also want to win this fall in states such as Michigan and Ohio where UAW members are a big voting bloc and can provide foot soldiers for get-out-the-vote efforts.
A law adopted by California in 2002 would effectively require the auto industry to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 30% — equivalent to an average fuel-economy level of roughly 35 miles per gallon by 2016, by some estimates. Auto-industry officials say the law is tantamount to state regulation of automobile fuel economy, traditionally a federal responsibility.

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