After President Obama’s announcement of uber fuel economy standards that would create a passenger vehicle fleet to the tune of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, Americans should be jubilant, right? Aside from the expected right-wing blowback for protecting the health of Americans, why should Americans be happy about a standard set to take effect fourteen years from now? The U.S. automakers in particular have had their chance to conform to standards of higher mpg for decades now and have dragged their feet the entire tire (or time?). The fourteen year window smells like more than enough time for U.S. automakers to dismantle President Obama’s fuel economy standards, with a few years to spare.
We just don’t have the technology; Americans don’t care about cars with higher mpg’s; we’re working on it. These are just a few of the excuses the U.S. automakers have used over this time period to effectively put off a substantive increase in greater U.S. automobile efficiency. Meanwhile, the red flag of global climate change has been rising substantially higher this year alone, in no small part to the glut of relatively inefficient automobiles that travel throughout the country every day. U.S. automakers had their chance to meld business growth with environmental friendliness; their good faith efforts have long since proven to be a farce.
The American people are too big to fail, but that’s exactly what has been occurring for some time now as administration after administration and congress after congress has failed to act to force U.S. automakers into line on reasonable fuel economy standards. Credit has to be given to President Obama for finally talking these commonsense steps to protect the American people’s health and bank accounts. But the success of President Obama’s new standards will largely rest on the foresight and concern for the American people of future administrations. If another George W. Bush comes to the Oval Office, we might as well all start riding around in Hummers. This eventuality may be just around the corner.