Daily Editorial: Slow switch to green
Vail CO, Colorado
The increase in fuel efficiency ordered by Congress and signed by President Bush is hardly a green revolution.
Automakers, ever-resistant to such changes, now have until 2020 to raise the mileage of cars, SUVs and small trucks by 40 percent to 35 miles per gallon. A bolder aspect of the law is its requirement of a sixfold increase in the use of ethanol to power vehicles.
But Congress and the president shouldn’t be faulted for not turning the nation’s energy industry upside-down, because major societal changes often take time. Americans aren’t going to change their energy habits overnight.
Plus, there are still some Americans, including some of its leaders and presidential candidates, who aren’t convinced fighting global warming is a priority. There may have to be more disastrous wildfires and more gravely threatened water supplies before they come to believe in the human-caused climate change most scientists hold as fact.
And the auto and oil industries continue to have great sway in Washington ” every claimed threat to their bottom line is taken seriously by a significant number of politicians.
The European Union is being tougher than Congress has been with the world’s automakers. The EU wants vehicle manufacturers to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 2012 or face fines. When threatened with an increase in the price of cars, the EU’s environmental commissioner, according to the Associated Press, basically said “so what.”
The commissioner said the increase would be offset by the money drivers would save on gas. As Americans, we should realize it’s worth spending extra money to make sure the planet remains habitable.
There is still heavy resistance to fixing the world’s pollution problems. This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to live up to its name when it shot down California’s attempt to pass even stricter efficiency standards than Congress.
The EPA’s administrator said he didn’t want of patchwork of state laws confusing the poor old auto industry. His decision may also have put a damper on other states that were getting ready to follow California’s bold lead.
All major societal change, of course, also faces setbacks. We hope the decisions of small-minded bureaucrats ” like EPA boss Steve Johnson ” will be no more than bumps in the road we must take to treating our planet more responsibly.
” Matt Zalaznick for the Editorial Board