As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Big Tailpipe Emissions Breakthrough, As Arnold Runs And Hides Again

The Obama Administration is poised to announce a major deal on tailpipe emissions standards, bringing the whole country under one federal standard that fairly closely appropriates what California passed in 2002 and has been trying to get a waiver from the feds about ever since.

President Obama will announce as early as Tuesday that he will combine California’s tough new auto-emissions rules with the existing corporate average fuel economy standard to create a single new national standard, the officials said. As a result, cars and light trucks sold in the United States will be roughly 30 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016.

The White House would not divulge details, but environmental advocates and industry officials briefed on the program said that the president would grant California’s longstanding request that its tailpipe emissions standards be imposed nationally. That request was denied by the Bush administration but has been under review by top Obama administration officials since January.

But Mr. Obama is planning to go further, putting in place new mileage requirements to be administered by the Department of Transportation that would match the stringency of the California program.

Under the new standard, the national fleet mileage rule for cars would be roughly 42 miles a gallon in 2016. Light trucks would have to meet a fleet average of slightly more than 26.2 miles a gallon by 2016.

This is a major victory for California, as well as a step forward for all sides of this debate. Auto companies, who apparently signed off on the deal, can now have certainty about their future production needs. The states can get out of court and provide a better environment for their constituents. And we all can breathe cleaner air while using less oil.

But the hilarious postscript must be highlighted. Politico reports that this deal will be announced tomorrow, with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in attendance. As CapAlert notes, there's just one problem: California has a statewide election tomorrow, and Arnold is not an absentee voter. Yes, the Governor, the head cheerleader and supporter of the special election, might miss out on voting in it (although, if the announcement takes place early enough, he could be reasonably expected to make it home before the polls close at 8pm).

You know Arnold can't resist the lure of the spotlight. And better for him to stand at the side of a popular President than try in vain to rescue a flawed set of ballot measures which have probably already failed, given the 2 million vote-by-mail ballots already cast. It probably appeals to him to leave town on Election Day and hide out in Washington. That's par for the course for him, failing to ever accept responsibility for the damage he's caused.

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