The Facts: Detroit and the US Government
"American drivers are the latest victims of Congress and auto manufacturers' refusal to help get U.S. oil demand under control. Auto manufacturers are dragging their feet getting fuel-efficient technologies for SUVs and cars into the market place -- technologies that would weaken the grip OPEC has on our oil-dependant country -- and Congress is letting them get away with it," states Alliance President David M. Nemtzow.
About the "Coalition for Vehicle Choice" - by the Environmental Working Group
Several independent groups have strongly urged America to move away from oil. The Rocky Mountain Institute, a think-tank concerned with energy efficiency, argues in a newish study partly funded by the Pentagon that America can end its oil imports with aggressive adoption of biofuels, radically more efficient cars and other related policies. The National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP), a bipartisan panel of energy heavyweights, recently made the case for boosting domestic energy sources, and also advocates a clever "cap and trade" approach to tackling greenhouse gases.
Under the voluntary deal, the automakers will reduce emissions by 25 percent from 1995 levels by 2010, Natural Resources Minister John Efford told Parliament Wednesday.
The pressure on President George W. Bush to work toward a global accord on climate change may intensify in his second term, as a buildup of grass-roots lobbying from U.S. companies and states and from his closest ally in Europe, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, make the issue a priority.
The 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid is the first hybrid to be built in North America. It combines the fuel economy and emissions benefits of a "full" hybrid with the go-anywhere capability, toughness and spaciousness of the Ford Escape, America's best-selling small SUV.
Kyoto demonstrates that America's allies are increasingly shaping the international agenda without it. When the Bush administration rejected Kyoto in 2001, it assumed that other nations would follow suit, but more than 120 nations have ratified it.
U.S. sales of the Excursion, which was launched in 1999, are down 25 percent so far this year. The Sierra Club, which dubbed the Excursion the "Ford Valdez" after the infamous Alaskan oil spill, called it an environmental disaster because of its poor fuel economy rating.
General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG are teaming up to develop fuel-saving hybrid engines in hopes of cashing in on an expanding market already dominated by hybrid leaders Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.
Toyota, General Motors and seven other automakers have filed suit to block California's new greenhouse gas regulation, which was approved by the state in its final form in September. Schwarzenegger had said that "he intended to fight the expected court challenges."
Hyperion ... today launched a first-of-its-kind initiative to clear the air by helping its employees purchase fuel-efficient cars for their personal use. Under its Drive Clean to Drive Change initiative, Hyperion will reimburse employees US $5,000 for vehicles that achieve 45 miles per gallon or the equivalent of gasoline.
At the presidential level, the climate-and-cars debate reflects a deep philosophical difference on regulations: Republicans see them as distorting free markets, while Democrats see them as making those markets socially acceptable. But ironically it could be two Republican governors — California's Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York's George Pataki — who take the nation down a regulatory path.
That sound you hear out of Detroit these days is a lot of whistling past the graveyard. For the past decade -- the auto industry's fat years, when average annual sales of 17 million cars and trucks generated big returns -- the U.S. Big Three invested much of their profits in horsepower. The resulting muscle-bound trucks and bulky SUVs proved wildly popular, and probably saved Motown's hide. In the meantime, though, the Japanese and Europeans -- whose home markets have long had more expensive fuel -- were investing in a host of fuel-efficient technologies.
"The administration is finally admitting what the National Academy of Sciences and virtually every other scientific body has concluded: Climate change is happening now," Petsonk said. "It's time for the United States, the world's biggest greenhouse gas polluter, to step up to the plate and start cutting emissions."
WASHINGTON — Placing a heavy emphasis on energy production in the American West, the Bush administration has moved aggressively to open up broad areas of largely unspoiled federal land to oil and gas exploration.
As Paris tries to ban four-wheel-drives, The Age's Gabriella Coslovich says there could be moves to do the same in Australia.
In short, America can no longer afford the fiction that we still control our oil supply. Instead, we must refocus on the one area where we do have control: demand. Specifically, we need to find ways to use dramatically less oil, especially in our transportation fleet, where two-thirds of all U.S. oil use occurs.
"Space-occupiers, polluters, and more dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users". At least, that is how Professor David Begg, a government adviser, describes four-wheel drive vehicles in his campaign to tax them more than conventional cars. The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has said that drivers of four-wheel drive vehicles in an urban areas are "complete idiots".
The Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers, an industry lobbying group, described the ambitious plan by California officials as a back-door attempt to regulate fuel economy. General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and other automakers contend only the federal government has authority to enact fuel economy rules. "This rule will save California consumers billions of dollars in operating costs," said Jason Mark, director of clean vehicles for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Californians are getting tired of hearing from the automakers that they can’t have cleaner cars. It’s like a bad summer sequel.
The State of California is squarely in the drivers seat when it comes to possible court challenges against the new global warming pollution. Automakers quickly attacked proposed rule issued last month, but unambiguous language of the Clean Air Act, the federal fuel economy law, and more than 30 years of judicial reasoning all suggest carmakers would face a steep uphill legal fight.
Tony Blair now identifies climate change as "the single most important issue we face as a global community". The main cause of climate change is the production of carbon dioxide. The fastest- growing source of carbon dioxide in Britain is transport: its emissions increased by 50% between 1990 and 2002. Flying accounts for most of this, but another reason is that the market for large 4x4s more than doubled in this period. Every year, 150,000 British people now buy one of these monsters, mostly to drive around our cities.
"Ford's claims to be 'greening the blue oval' again are echoes of a broken promise Americans heard when it pledged in 2000 to improve its SUV fuel efficiency 25 percent by 2005. Ford can't escape its abysmal fleet-wide EPA ranking by producing a few thousand token hybrid SUVs and one green roof. If the environmental consequences weren't so dire, Ford's latest eco-marketing push, complete with an 8-page advertorial insert in The New Yorker full page ads in National Geographic, would be laughable for giving smoke and mirrors new meaning."
A new series of whimsical public service announcements from the Environmental Protection Agency are lampooning the notion that cars can be made more energy efficient while the ads encourage conservation at home. But it comes at a time of heightened awareness of oil consumption and energy security, and despite the fact that many analysts say consumers can make their greatest single contribution to air quality when choosing a car.
A measure granting drivers of hybrid vehicles access to free-way carpool lanes -- even when alone -- is cruising through the Legislature, despite calls from opponents who say such drivers could gum up the lanes for those in carpools and buses. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger supports the bill, as does Treasurer Phil Angelides, one of Schwarzenegger's leading Democratic critics. The California Air Resources Board also supports it, and it has cleared two committees with19-1 and 12-1 votes.
An initial draft of a California global-warming regulation would require automakers to cut the amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to climate change that their new vehicles emit by as much as 30 percent over the next decade.
Bulky four-by-fours could be banned from clogging up the chic streets of Paris after a top official in the capital's left-wing government described them as a polluting "caricature of a car" unsuited to city life.
The hybrid technology inside the new Ford Escape was actually patented by Toyota Motor Corp. Although Ford says it bought the patents for the sake of convenience, there is no question that Japanese engineers were there first.
Says De Cicco, "You could take that vehicle and put a better engine in it, an engine that cuts the energy waste that's going on in today's engines. You could put a better transmission in it, take weight out of the vehicle, without making it any smaller. If you do that, you could improve that 20-mile-per-gallon vehicle today to 35 miles per gallon." And he is not talking about hybrids or fuel cells. He is talking about the engine as it is now.
Conservative Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich signed a landmark clean energy bill into law today, marking the single biggest step Maryland has ever taken in the fight against global warming and air pollution.
The country would indeed be better off if gasoline taxes had been raised by 50 cents a gallon when Mr. Kerry favored the idea. And the United States would still be wise today, if it increased gasoline taxes by the same amount now.
A national group of Christian leaders is sending a scathing letter to President Bush to coincide with Earth Day, accusing his administration of chipping away at the Clean Air Act.
In interviews at the New York International Auto Show this month, top executives of General Motors and the Ford Motor Company, both of which make and sell a lot of cars in Europe, reiterated their support for high gasoline taxes - as opposed to stricter fuel economy regulations.
"Anything that can align the individual customer's purchase decisions with society's goals are the way to go," Ford's chairman and chief executive, William Clay Ford Jr., said, adding that his company has previously supported a 50-cent increase in gas taxes.
The worst knock against a gas tax is that it is, well, a tax. Who likes that? But with soaring deficits and a war to pay for, taxes are not an option — they're a necessity. The only relevant question is, Which taxes? The case for a gas tax is a straightforward one. Gas prices are strikingly lower in America than anywhere else in the world; such taxes are relatively easy to collect; since an overwhelming majority of Americans drive, few avoid the tax; and by adding a cost to the wanton consumption of gasoline, you actually encourage conservation, accelerate fuel efficiency, reduce pollution, cut traffic and help wean Americans off the oil that requires the U.S. to be so intimately involved in that wonderful cesspool of rival hatreds, the Middle East. So what's not to like?
For more than a quarter-century, that has been Detroit’s basic attitude whenever lawmakers have suggested, however timidly: Can’t you guys try to make cars that guzzle less gas?
Instead, Detroit devoted all its energy to lobbying Congress not to raise the miles-per-gallon requirements that have been in place since 1975. And chicken-hearted Congress complied. Oh, last year it finally got the guts to ask for a measly 1.5-mpg increase in fuel efficiency for sport-utility vehicles. Then it gave the carmakers three whole years to make it happen. Gullible Congress believed Detroit when it said American innovation just couldn’t wrest any big gains from the gas tank.
Ford Motor Co. is increasing the number of hybrid vehicles it will offer in the next few years from two to three, adding another sport-utility vehicle to its hybrid lineup.
Ford will build a Mercury Mariner hybrid SUV for the 2007 model year. The Mariner will join the Ford Escape SUV and a future midsize sedan in the automaker's hybrid program.
At a single media event at the New York auto show Wednesday, Bill Ford Jr. said Ford Motor Co. would add another fuel-efficient hybrid to its lineup, the Mercury Mariner SUV, and took the wraps off a gas-chugging Mustang concept race car.
Then the avowed nature lover told reporters that he supports higher gasoline taxes and more government incentives to encourage consumers to buy hybrids, but conceded that a fuel tax hike probably isn’t politically viable.
Import nameplates dominate the list of green vehicles, led by the Toyota Prius sedan, a hybrid that uses a small internal-combustion engine mated to an electric motor to eke out 3.9 litres per 100 kilometres in city driving and 4.6 l/100km on the highway. The 10-worst list was led by Volkswagen's Toureg diesel-model sport-utility vehicle, mainly because of its high, smog-creating nitrogen oxide emissions and concerns diesel exhaust is linked to cancer, the group said.
In the face of rising gasoline prices and stagnating fuel efficiency, Senator John Kerry is sticking with a plan he backed in the Senate to increase the nation's fuel economy standards 50 percent by 2015. That would be the largest increase, by far, since automotive fuel economy standards were first imposed after the oil shocks of the 1970's.
By making a few small changes in the design of the car - raising the rear bumper, adding about an inch-and-a-half of ground clearance - Subaru Outback customers have been transformed, technically, into truck drivers. Or worse, in the minds of many Maine Subaru drivers, SUV owners.
U.S. voters hit with soaring gasoline prices can choose between two presidential candidates with contrary ways to escape the energy morass -- a Democrat pushing conservation and a Republican who wants to drill his way out.
February 25 - Environmental Group Depicts Ford's Chief as Pinocchio - NY Times
February 23 - Bush plan to overhaul CAFE standards is a mixed bag - Working Assets
February 6 - Environmentalists Target Ford for Broken Pledge to Improve SUV Efficiency - Environmental Media Services
January 14 - Automakers to launch more gas-electric vehicles
December 9 - Administration eyes burying carbon dioxide - USA Today
December 4 - America's war on nature - The Independent, UK
November 25 - Ventura County to consider eliminating SUVs from its fleet - San Jose Mercury News
November 17 - Send a FAX urging the House Ways and Means Committee to end the SUV loophole - Public Citizens
November 7 - Businesses Jump on an SUV Loophole - The Washington Post
November 5 - G.M. Puts Off Its Hybrids, Letting Ford Go First - The Ledger, Florida
October 23 - States Try to Force EPA to Regulate CO2 - ABC News
October 20 - Lawmakers Weigh Credit for Hybrid Cars - MotorTrend
September 9 - SUV pollution, mpg standards to tighten soon - Associated Press
August 4 - Pollution in Washington - Boston Globe
July 31 - Dean calls for stronger environmental protection in S.F. speech - San Francisco Chronicle
July 15 - California eyes SUV ban - BBC News
June 16 - U.S. Seeks Hydrogen Fuel Partnership - Washington Post
June 13 - Outlaw SUVs? Calif. bill stirs debate - MSNBC.com
May 9 - Campaign Slams U.S. Automakers For Gas Guzzlers - Environment News Service
May 7 - Hummer is bummer on new-car quality list - Seattle Times
April 30 - Auto Industry Revs up SUV Ads Online - eMarketer
April 29 - What Evangelical Environmentalists Do Not Know About Economics
April 17 - Ford to Miss Deadline for SUV Target - Reuters
April 17 - SUVs: Suddenly Upside-down Vehicles
April 7 - Humvee's Obnoxious New Ad - Slate.com
April 7 - Rewrite of Emissions Rule May Roll Out More Hybrids - LA Times
Feb. 24 - Blair Hot To Fight Global Warming - CBS News
Feb. 17 - Living Without Oil - US News
Feb. 11 - Experts: Fuel-efficient cars in reach without hydrogen
Feb. 9 - The green car scam - Berkshire Eagle
Jan. 30 - U.S. Senate bill aims to boost SUV fuel efficiency - Reuters
Jan. 29 - Auto Makers Start to Back Away From Hulking, Profitable SUVs As Outcry Over the Vehicles Grows, Detroit Pushes Smaller, Carlike Models - Wall Street Journal
Jan. 26 - Administration haunted by stance on Kyoto Protocol
Jan. 22 - Speaking out on the perils of SUVs - LA Times
Jan. 21 - Bush Proposal May Cut Tax on S.U.V.'s for Business - NY Times
Jan. 9 - Grudging Nod to Hybrid SUVs - LA Times
Jan. 6 - GM to Produce Hybrid SUVs - LA Times
Dec. 13 - DOT [barely] tightening SUV fuel rules - CNN.com
Dec. 2 - The Highest Patriotism Lies in Weaning U.S. From Fossil Fuels - by Robert Redford
Nov. 20 - White House weighs SUV rules
Nov. 20 - 'Jesus,' government eye SUVs
Oct. 23 - An ad George Bush should love -- thanks to you
Oct. 22 - An ad George Bush should love
Oct. 22 - This Is Oil -- This Is a No-Brainer on Oil
August 2 - Think Small -- It May be a Trend
July 31 - Ford Excursion Near the End
July 22 - Calif. Governor Signs Landmark Auto Emissions Law
The legislation, which has been fiercely opposed by the auto industry, requires the California Air Resources Board to adopt regulations that would achieve "the maximum feasible reduction" in emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, emitted by cars and light-duty trucks, the category that includes sport utility vehicles.
July 22 - The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturer's response to the law (pathetic!)
July 12 - Democrats call Bush global warming plan "baloney"
June 11 - GM Hummer H2 Fans Bid on EBay to Be First in Line
June 3 - Critics Resigning Over Bush's Green Rules
June 3 - Bush Administration Blames Humans for Global Warming
June 3 - Climate Action Report 2002
April 25 - Save GM - and win a new Honda hybrid!
Green Light? Ford Touts Global Warming Concerns, Focusing on SUV Gas Mileage
"Our approach to SUVs and the environment has not always been responsible," William Clay Ford Jr., Company Chairman"
Mar. 28 - Talking Green vs. Making Green - NY Times
But since becoming chief executive and gaining operational control of the struggling company last October, Mr. Ford, 44, has muted his pronouncements on such issues and has made decisions that have bitterly disappointed environmentalists.
Mar. 13 - Senate Rejects Huge Hike in Vehicle Fuel Standards
Mar. 13 - Drivers Need More Data on Hybrids
Feb. 25 - GM Protests Proposed Fuel Standards
The Globe: Comforting SUV Owners?
Detroit fattens up new herd of SUVs
Little Old Man Versus the Big Three
The Golden Era of the Sports Utility Vehicle, Auto & Truck Manufacturers Industry Report
Engine, Transmission Technologies Lead Ford SUV Fuel Gains, Ford Motor Company