Is California Compromise in the Works?

Free Press columnist Mark Phelan believes the Obama Administration will seek a compromise on California's CO2 emissions regulation.

Published: 02-Feb-2009

While most people see President Barack Obama's order telling the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its decision that banned California's tougher greenhouse-gas emissions as a victory for environmentalists, I think it's more likely to lead to a compromise that California and the automakers could live with.

The California standard calls for automakers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the vehicles they sell in the state 30% by 2016. Lower CO2 emissions are directly proportional to reduced consumption of gasoline, so automakers calculate the rule effectively requires an average fuel economy of 26.7 m.p.g. for pickups and SUVs and 43.2 m.p.g. for cars.

That's higher average fuel economy than the tiny plastic-bodied Smart Fortwo city car gets. The only car currently sold in the United States that would meet the standard is the Toyota Prius hybrid. On the truck side, only the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner hybrid SUVs pass muster.

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