By on August 1, 2011

With the high political drama surrounding America’s debt ceiling crisis, last Friday’s CAFE announcement received much less attention from the media than it might have. But, flying even further beneath the radar is an attempt by Republicans to undo the fuel economy agreement that was the result of long negotiations. According to the NYT, some 39 “anti environmental” riders were attached to an Interior Department and EPA appropriations bill, including one which reads

Sec. 453. None of the funds made available under this Act shall be used— (1) to prepare, propose, promulgate, finalize, implement, or enforce any regulation pursuant to section 202 of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7521) regarding the regulation of any greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines that are manufactured after model year 2016 to address climate change.

Though one rider, which would have prevented any new listings on the Endangered Species Act lists of threatened and endangered species, was defeated, the NYT reports that the fuel economy rider is still pending. Politico adds that the bill is scheduled to go to the House floor today, but that President Obama is already threatening to veto the bill. Having worked with California, environmental groups and the auto industry to hammer out a compromise, it’s unlikely that the White House will approve any final bill that includes a measure to gut the new 2016-2025 standard… but the fact that Republicans are trying to eliminate the EPA’s ability to regulate fuel economy indicates that someone, somewhere wouldn’t mind seeing the newly-approved CAFE standard gutted.

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34 Comments on “Republicans Attempt To Gut CAFE Through EPA Funding Bill...”


  • avatar
    Contrarian

    I’d love to see the new EPA rules gutted. Are we supposed to accept that the GM and Chrsyler negotiators weren’t pushed to accept whatever their govt masters asked for?

    Let the market decide on fuel economy. With gas 4 or 5 bucks a gallon (or even much more) it will be self-regulating.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      I would agree with you if the gas prices were not set by a few speculators. These speculators seem to be the ones determining what really happens in our economy. The Government is just window dressing for those few with the real power. CAFE is just another distraction to keep most folks occupied and not looking at what is really happening in the big picture.

      • 0 avatar
        korvetkeith

        If by speculators you mean the Fed, then I agree. Otherwise you’re just regurgitating a line that a politician fed you because you don’t understand the real reason gas is expensive.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    No new endangered species entries, huh? Way to be stewards of the earth, guys.

    I can understand the debate around CAFE, but gutting biodiversity always seemed like naked greed.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      The move looks like it’s meant to appeal to the Republican base (older conservative southern whites, basically) on several levels, even if it doesn’t pass.

      First, it’s what liberal’s don’t want, so they support it.

      Second, there’s probably a religious component–We should be able to exploit the earth because it won’t matter when the Second Coming happens anyway. (I had an exterminator guy explain this to me once)

      • 0 avatar

        Both Judaism and Christianity say that man should be a good steward of God’s creation.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Ronnie, then you’d better get the word out. There’s another verse in Genesis giving man dominion over the earth, and I hear that quoted far more often than the “good stewardship” clause. I can’t get anywhere with supporters of that mentality, so it might have more credibility coming from a conservative :)

      • 0 avatar
        korvetkeith

        (older conservative southern whites, basically)

        I’m not old or southern and it appeals to me. And not for any of the ridiculous reasons that you suggested either.

      • 0 avatar

        Dominion but not ownership. People exploit their environment to the extent of their technology, whether aboriginals or residents of New York’s Upper West Side. The point is doing it responsibly.

        In terms of conservatives, I think you’ll find many conservatives and libertarians are old school conservationists, a term that the environmental movement gave a bad name. I think there’s a philosophy behind that. The word “conserve” implies use, balancing immediate needs with long term needs. Since some environmentalists seem to have a problem with living a modern life and have an idyllic view of how life used to be before fossil fuel and modern medicine/technology, they tend to believe that no use of the environment at all, beyond noble savage type views of native cultures (see above) should be permitted.

        I’m thinking of doing a piece on horsepower, ethanol and manure. A day camp near my house rented a horse drawn wagon for a day and the kids were getting rides. The horses left something behind, which a truck (not sure if it was the city’s) vacuumed up.

        That got me thinking. Today we debate whether corn ethanol is the equivalent of burning our seed corn. We debate the use of fossil fuels.

        Not too long ago about half of land under cultivation was used to feed work animals. Before fossil fuel powered horsepower there was horse power. Those horses and mules and oxen and other draught (illiterate fricking spell checker says that’s an error) animals. Those animals left a lot of manure in the streets and roads. Why do you think being a streetsweeper was such a low class job? In the summer the cities were filthy and filled with disease from that filth, a lot of it from the animals that people used to get on with life and commerce.

        James Watt changed that. The use of fossil fuels and modern energy sources like electricity and natural gas also changed the quality of life indoors. In the olden days, people burned wood and dung for heat and cooking needs, or perhaps peat moss. That didn’t do much for air quality indoors. These conditions still exist in parts of the world (also the same parts where deforestation is an issue).

        Watt’s coal fired steam engine led to the industrial revolution, and I think it can be argued that petroleum’s discovery and use as a fuel in the 18th century led in part to the age of invention and also modern medicine, chemistry and other scientific advancements. Pasteur and Lister both came after petroleum started being used.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, there’s a legitimate question as to whether or not the Endangered Species list has actually helped those animal populations. If we’re spending money protecting them, and putting up barriers to economic growth to protect them, before we continue doing it, shouldn’t we evaluate it for success? Otherwise it’s just another case of the precautionary principle.

      James L. Huffman, former Dean of the Lewis & Clark Law School, examines the federal government’s flagging efforts to save the endangered spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest.

      Despite a 90% cutback in harvesting on federal lands (which constitute 46% of Oregon and Washington combined), the population of spotted owls continues to decline, as do rural communities that once prospered across the Northwest. In some areas, spotted owls are vanishing at a rate of 9% per year, while on average the rate is 3%. . . .

      The final Revised Recovery Plan, issued on June 30, calls for expanding protections for owls beyond the nearly six million acres currently set aside. Ironically, it also calls for the “removal”—i.e., shooting—of hundreds of barred owls, a larger and more adaptable rival of the spotted owl that competes for prey and nesting sites, and sometimes breeds with the spotted owl.

      How much will it cost to implement this plan? The Fish and Wildlife Service says the species could be rejuvenated over the next 30 years at a cost of about $127 million. But that money will do little if anything to rejuvenate the depressed rural communities of the Northwest where still more timber land will be off limits to harvesting.

    • 0 avatar

      Also, we need to do research to be able to distinguish between cases of species endangered by man and by nature. As you can see in the above quote, competition interbreeding with another species seems to be a factor with the spotted owl.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        So if the actions of man make a species MORE vulnerable to competition, tipping it towards the losing side of that equation, under which category does that fall? Natural species extinctions are much more likely to happen over a very long period of time. If a species that evolved over millions of years is suddenly blinking out over the course of a human lifetime, there’s a pretty good chance it is human caused. Or else we are witnessing one hell of a coincidence.

      • 0 avatar

        30 mile stretch,

        That’s not necessarily a logical conclusion. There have been times in the history of the world when there have been mass, naturally based extinctions, sometimes local, sometimes more global.

        In the northern Detroit suburbs, over the past 30 years, Russian (black) squirrels have been slowly taking over from the more common grey (brown) squirrels. I think they started in Ontario and have been moving west. They’re bigger, more aggressive (also less intelligent) and they are pushing out the “native” squirrels.

        Now you may say, well, it’s all man’s fault. Well, there may be a human component – there often is with invasive species, but there may not be.

        We can’t always operate on the precautionary principle because then we’d get nothing done at all. The precautionary principle is not logical or scientific but rather xenophobic.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Sure. Do you know what MOST EPA money goes to? GRANTS. Mostly to left-wing extremist groups with their politicized sham-science reports.

    How does THAT effect “biodiversity”?

    The EPA has as much to do with a clean environment, any more, as the Department of Energy produces energy; as the Department of Education creates educated kids; as the Department of Commerce promotes commerce.

    In other words, nothing. Zip, zero, nada.

    If you want to be made to walk to work, or ride a bus belching foul fumes, smelling foul indigent passengers…support more funding for the EPA. Because THAT is their mission – to make the proles live as they, the elites, think they should.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      Given your opinion on the EPA, the departments of Education and Energy, what’s your take on the Department of Homeland Security?

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        Security Theater.

        Waste of resources.

        REAL security requires remedies which are politically unpalatable – and so we’ll continue to be exposed.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        While I can’t say that I think much of your opinion of the EPA, you are pretty much spot on about resource allocation with the Department of Homeland Security. How about funds being used for backup generators for schools or police departments? Or license plate scanners for cop cars. Not just to be used in cities, but they get given to local police departments. Plate scanners on cop cars in places like Lloyd Harbor NY. Google it. What is the likelyhood of terrorists camping in a rich incorporated village? What a waste of taxpayer money…

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        “What is the likelyhood of terrorists camping in a rich incorporated village? What a waste of taxpayer money…”

        What was the likelihood of terrorists camping in Lackawanna, New York, outside Buffalo? Pretty damn good, as it turned out…they’d been planning to take out the international railroad bridge, which handled both Amtrack/VIA trains and hazardous cargo.

        I don’t think much of the individual tactics you listed. I think they smack of a police state…what I like, is taking people who aren’t citizens, yanking them in for investigation, and barring extenuating circumstances, throwing their assets OUT.

        No more damn “student visas” – especially not to 30-year-olds who’re identified as imams or have such links.

        That’s for starters. Save your yowling – it won’t happen; like I said, true security is politically unpalatable.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Lacakawanna NY median income, $33,000. Lloyd Harbor, $220,000. My point is that a lot of “terrorist fighting” dollars are being spent in areas that are increasingly unlikely to be used to harbor (no pun intended) terrorists. I’d much rather see this money being spent in areas that actually have at least some chance of having some return on the original intent, ie fighting terrorism, as opposed to being spent foolishly.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    The phrase “Best and Brightest” perhaps should be reserved only for things automotive. (Or was it always just tongue-in-cheek?) These political screeds are often so half-baked and loopy that I sometimes wonder whether they might simply be meant as satire and I’m just being slow on the uptake.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, Jeff, I think you’re getting a bit slow on the uptake. Try espresso in the morning. It helps!

      Anyway, I do recommend espresso.

    • 0 avatar
      50merc

      Jeff, before the phrase was adopted for TTAC’ers, it was best known as a sobriquet for the super-smart folks responsible for bringing America into and expanding the Vietnam War.

      “Best and brightest” might also be an appropriately ironic label for those who persist in acting as if “greenhouse gases” and “climate change” are genuine threats, despite the unmasking of alarmist fraud and hyperbole.

      • 0 avatar

        http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/12/04/the-truth-about-climategate.html

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Maybe you ought to stick to cars, 50merc.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        David, the Daily Beast is a partisan news organization leaning pretty hard left. If you cite them you’ve got to allow others to cite conservative organizations without comments about their validity. No one gets to cherry-pick sources, until proven otherwise, you’ve got to accept them as valid even if you don’t like what they say.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        MikeAR, please allow me to quote from that hippie rag known as The Economist:

        “It is simply a fact that the planet is getting warmer. That many people who previously knew this have come to un-know it indicates that people are busy at work promoting ignorance…

        Glaciers don’t lie. The earth is warming. Republicans used to know this. Now they don’t. Who is responsible for persuading these people of a falsehood? Those people need to be held to account.”

      • 0 avatar

        Astigmatism,

        It was warmer in the middle ages than it is now. That’s why the data has been fudged, to “hide the decline” since then. It used to be known as the late middle warming period till the high priests of AGW took over the academe. Tree ring and ice core data still support its existence.

        There was no fossil fuel use then.

        Going back further, it’s not well known but the Great Lakes are not that ancient, less than 15,000 years old. Once glaciers covered a good chunk of the middle US and all of Canada. The glaciers first growing and then receding shaped the land, leaving moraines all over the midwest, and the lakes in their wake.

        There was no fossil fuel use then.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        No, Ronnie, it was not warmer in the Middle Ages than now, despite how much global warming skeptics have tried to advance this argument.

        http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/mann2008/mann2008.html

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Nice link, maybe you should have actually read it before you posted it though. Look at the names, one sticks out, Michael Mann. He ought to be familiar to many here. Think “climategate”, the emails leaked from East Anglia that described efforts to cook the books and ignore everything that wasn’t favorable to the global warming hypothesis. It is not and never has been scientific fact. There is plenty of good science that goes against the global warming consensus if you want to give it some thought.

        Another point Astig, The Economist, I used to be a subscriber, is an English publication. It is and has been a Labour Party organ and therefore is very slanted in its coverage. Using it as a source sounds really good but it doesn’t fly with me. You’re cherry-picking, going through and picking out anything that happenss to support your view, Try and read something from the other side, it would be at least as based in science as your side.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Regardless of whether you worry about climate change or reducing oil imports, or both, the EPA is a rogue agency at this point, acting far outside the bounds of its charter. Congress could reign them in, but half of it supports the extreme agenda of the EPA.

    These new rules are absurd as technical impossibilities unless car manufacturers simply neglect to offer us any cars we want to buy and drive. Essentially it is a Prius for everyone, with some extra weight shedding (power seats begone). Variety and choice by the public will not be permitted. For anyone who purports to be a car “enthusiast” to support something like this is the height of hypocrisy.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      There’s a difference between supporting CAFE and recognizing that a 37.8 MPG standard by 2016 is not anything to be hyperventilating about. Particularly because 37.8 on the CAFE scale is about 29 on the EPA scale, you know, the scale everyone actually uses.

      Seriously, it’s not the end of the world. A 29 MPG corporate average is not “zomfg everyone will be required to buy a Prius”.

      (You’ll note that I’m focusing on the 2016 number and not the 2025 number that politicans like to rant about. That’s because the 2025 number is completely meaningless; there’s a “mid-term review” before then and it’s four Presidential elections (e.g. eight Congressional elections) away. Nobody cares about that number except the press and the politicians arguing over it.)

  • avatar
    bobby b

    ” . . . the fuel economy agreement that was the result of long negotiations.”

    Negotiations between who? Certainly not me, or anyone else that I know.

    These negotiations took into account everyone’s desires and wishes and goals except for . . . the buyers and drivers of automobiles. This never works.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Since no present Congress can bind a future Congress without an Amendment, CAFE standards can and will be modified with changes in our elected reps.

    GOP President and Congress in 2013 means lower or gutted CAFE standards… (That would be fine with me).

    A re-elected President Obama and GOP congress in 2013 means the status quo (with maybe some loophole tinkering if things start to hurt GM too much).

    A re-elected Obama and a (new) Dem Congress in 2013 mean even more stringent CAFE standards.

    I suspect the middle option above is most likely.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    David Holzman: I took your suggestion and had a double espresso this morning. Sorry, but no help there. I still have trouble with all the certitudes, condescension (50merc’s about Halberstam’s book’s title; I actually knew him slightly) and generalized and ugly anger that such absolutism seems to spawn. Being that I’m not a climate scientist, I only know what I read as a layman. I try to maintain a healthy scepticism, but the weight of evidence appears to point toward human assisted global warming. Of course this could be mistaken. Can’t some others occasionally say the same?


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