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Lisa Jackson yesterday announced the EPA's finding that carbon emissions threatened the U.S. via global warming and were thus covered under the Clean Air Act. She plans to implement tough new fuel economy restrictions and new restrictions on manufacturing and power businesses.  (Source: The Detroit News)

The findings give ammo to President Obama's plan to crack down on polluting vehicles. Under the plan by 2016 automakers will have to achieve a fleetwide efficiency of 34.1 mpg or face steep fines.  (Source: Dugan Racing)
Is our lifestyle threatening our planet? The EPA thinks so.

Climate change has taken on the trappings of high drama.  Recent leaked climate emails are threatening to discredit much of the work of a significant UK climate center by suggesting manipulation of the peer review process and falsification of data and advocates of warming are pointing to countless other studies worldwide and suggesting that the time for action is now.  In Copenhagen, world climate talks have began.

And it appears one way or another the U.S. is going to get tough on emissions.  President Obama recently promised to cut U.S. emissions by 83 percent by 2050.  Yesterday, the EPA announced that it would be moving to bypass Congress and implement the foundation of such cuts.

Currently a global warming bill that would implement a carbon trading scheme -- the plan to cut emissions endorsed by President Obama -- has passed the House, but is stuck in a deadlocked Senate with the vote drawn largely on partisan lines.  An alternate route has emerged, to push through climate regulations, though.  The foundation of this approach stems from a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that global warming was covered by the previously passed Clean Air Act. 

The EPA has been evaluating this claim and yesterday announced that its "endangerment finding" revealed that carbon emissions were indeed a threat to the nation's health and covered under the clean air act.  Describes EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, "This long-overdue finding cements 2009's place in history as the year when the United States government began seriously addressing the challenge of greenhouse gas pollution.  [Greenhouse gases] are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves that threaten the health of the sick, poor or elderly; increases in ground-level ozone pollution linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses."

The agency's plans to implement new rules to combat this "threat' are now being aired.

The biggest immediate impact of the decision will be its role in enabling the fuel economy mandates delivered by President Obama.  Under the mandates, large automakers will need to implement fleetwide efficiency of 34.1 mpg by 2016.  That provision is expected to cost the automakers $60B USD.  The plan will essentially push California's emissions targets onto the entire nation.  Advocates say the efficiency upgrade is long overdue.  Critics, though, complain that it will damage an already sick industry.

Similar criticisms exist about the other half of the EPA's action plan -- its plan to regulate greenhouse gases from the power and manufacturing industries.  Some argue that this will result in higher power costs and the movement of manufacturing business overseas to countries like China that do not yet regulate greenhouse emissions.

Jeff Holmstead, EPA air administrator from 2001-05, during the Bush administration, delivered mixed praise for the initiatives.  He states, "[The decision is a] necessary prerequisite for the regulation of greenhouse gases from cars, trucks, businesses, factories, farms, and potentially even apartment buildings, schools, and hospitals.  The hard part is still to come. EPA now has to figure out how it will regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act without undermining the fragile economic recovery."

Robert Meyers, who led the EPA air and radiation office under President George W. Bush, comments that the EPA is approaching the point of no return when it comes to implementing regulation.  He comments, "The main event is to come. EPA indicates that new rules will be issued starting next spring. It will be very difficult to turn back, much less undo all that will be done."

Some businesses and lobbies have threatened to sue the EPA to try to block any new regulations, should they be put into place.

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By superunknown98 on 12/8/2009 11:08:20 AM , Rating: 2
While I agree that global warming is mostly hysteria, and driving a V8 isn't going to kill the planet, why are so many people against forcing more efficncy from car manufactures?

I understand it costs money to research new technology, but the Auto industry have historically been very lazy, with their can't do attitude. Remember when the auto industry said seatbelts were too expensive and nobody would wear them? How many times in the past has the auto industry complained Cafe standards were impossible to attain, only to be reached without going out of business.

The auto industry should be striving for efficiency, not complaining it's impossibe everytime they are asked to do better.

RE: efficiency
By Suntan on 12/8/2009 11:33:34 AM , Rating: 5
Remember when the auto industry said seatbelts were too expensive and nobody would wear them?

Remember when emissions forced technologies into cars that weren’t ready for prime time?

Remember running crappy cars in the mid 80’s that were smaller, more dangerous, first gen throttle bodies with vacuum lines running everywhere? They were a cast iron b!tch to troublshoot and didn’t run all that well even when they were running to spec.

Remember the quad-four engines of the time? I do, they were horrible, hateful engines.

Those were a direct result of car companies being forced to meet requirement before they were ready.

But then, you probably don’t remember any of that (or more likely never experienced it in the first place.) All you know is what you have read on some out of touch website that constantly chirps on that “car companies have all this technology just sitting on their shelves, blah blah blah.”

In your mind, everyone wants more fuel efficient, cleaner running cars. Also, in your mind, car companies can throw the switch and start making these cars that will meet these requirements with little issue. Business 101 says that every car company in the world would then be completely stupid *not* to offer these cars… yet they don’t. Maybe the equations don’t add up in your mind after all.


RE: efficiency
By Omega215D on 12/8/2009 12:07:58 PM , Rating: 2
Not only that it has shown that Emissions Regulations have decreased the fuel economy for all vehicles. So in essence we're burning more gas to be cleaner.

RE: efficiency
By 0ldman on 12/8/2009 2:10:34 PM , Rating: 2
Omega215D, I was about to say that myself.

Push the timing a bit higher, run a bit leaner, get more power and better efficiency, burn LESS gas. At the tailpipe the emissions might be a tad bit worse, but how much less fuel will be consumed and less stuff put into the air if the engines were tuned to run without the emissions requirements?

Considering I can get 24mpg with an 60's carb on a 302 in a 35 year old car that originally got 17mpg...

RE: efficiency
By FITCamaro on 12/8/2009 5:29:19 PM , Rating: 2

Don't tell the drones that carbs actually can get good mileage. I had a buddy with a 77 Vette who was getting 18 MPG city with a carbed motor and a 4-speed. If he'd have had a 6 speed he could've gotten better mileage.

RE: efficiency
By Omega215D on 12/8/2009 10:23:56 PM , Rating: 2
all my motorcycles have carburetors but i would like EFI so i don't have to keep using the enricher on cold days. i'm more of a ride now instead of warming it up kinda guy.

RE: efficiency
By Flunk on 12/8/2009 12:55:03 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think this is quite the same thing. Car manufacters can already produce cars that get >40MPG, and they have 6 years to bring improvements across their whole lines.

My current car gets >40 MPG.

RE: efficiency
By Spuke on 12/8/2009 1:14:26 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think this is quite the same thing. Car manufacters can already produce cars that get >40MPG, and they have 6 years to bring improvements across their whole lines.
This is not the issue. The issue isn't whether they can, it's whether it can be done cheaply while still meeting ALL of their customers requirements. You are ONE customer. Car companies have millions of customers and if you don't sell to ALL of them, you fail. They're already going towards meeting the 34 mpg standard and most of them should make it (I doubt Chrysler will...they're already paying fines on current regulations). You also need to remember that meeting this standard doesn't mean that every car will get 34 mpg either. There are formula's used to determine whether or not these standards are met. It's not just a straight average. That's why none of the car companies are complaining about it.

RE: efficiency
By IcePickFreak on 12/8/2009 1:03:54 PM , Rating: 2
How many times in the past has the auto industry complained Cafe standards were impossible to attain, only to be reached without going out of business.

Technically I suppose, but racking up debt for low-margin over-priced cars isn't exactly going to get you far.

The government is the one that has requirements for 1000 lbs of safety equipment, crumple zones with crumple zones, etc, and now are also suppose to be efficient which generally means small and light - and oh yeah, this needs to be done in 12 months and the cars need to be cheap. Yep, sounds like the government is involved.

RE: efficiency
By lightfoot on 12/8/2009 7:34:53 PM , Rating: 2
...and the cars need to be cheap.

But they won't be. Cars will only get more expensive from here on out.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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