President Barack Obama may be in favor of change -- but apparently not when it comes to the climate. Less than a week into his presidency, Team Obama will reverse a controversial, Dick Cheney-fueled decision of the Bush White House and allow states to curb greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles:
WASHINGTON — President Obama on Monday will direct federal regulators to move swiftly to grant California and 13 other states the right to set strict automobile emissions and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunday evening.
The directive makes good on an Obama campaign pledge and marks a sharp reversal from Bush administration policy. Granting California and the other states the right to regulate tailpipe emissions is one of the most dramatic actions Mr. Obama can take to quickly put his stamp on environmental policy.
The presidential orders will require automobile manufacturers to begin producing and selling cars and trucks that get higher mileage than the national standard, and on a faster phase-in schedule. The auto companies had lobbied hard against the regulations and challenged them in court.
Although it's not spelled out in the Times article posted tonight, one of those states is Pennsylvania. The Rendell administration adopted stricted standards in late 2006, only to see them thwarted along with California's by the federal government. According to the original Pennsylvania announcement:
Pennsylvania’s clean vehicles program locks in model year 2008 as the compliance date for new emission standards for new passenger cars and light-duty trucks in the commonwealth. The program also requires automakers to make their overall fleet cleaner than would be required by the federal government. Sticker prices of the cleaner vehicles are identical to the “dirtier” versions.
I'm sure opponents will take either two routes, which is to say 1) These laws were enacted before the Great Recession changed everything, but that ignores the evidence that cleaner cars will actually be good for the economy on a number of levels or 2) "Ha, ha -- global warming? It's 20 degrees out!," which is too ridiculous to even dignify with a response. This was a change that Obama promised, and for the American majority that wants to see action on climate change, it's a breath of fresh air.