make your own post about dingell and global warming

As I’m really tired, and as it’s already after midnight, I thought that we’d try something new tonight. I’m going to throw out a bunch of links, and then leave it to you, at home, to construct your own posts from them. (If you want to share them, feel free to leave a comment.) I’ll tell you this much – the post is going to be about the political dance that John Dingell and Nancy Pelosi are engaged in. And, here, because I really want to see you succeed at your fist assignment, is a clip from today’s “New York Times” with some of the background:

…The House of Representatives will open debate on a complex package of energy legislation on Friday, but strict new auto mileage standards will not be part of the discussion, Congressional leaders said Wednesday evening.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, decided not to allow a vote on an amendment requiring cars and light trucks sold in the United States to achieve a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2019. The measure, similar to one the Senate passed in June, drew fierce opposition from automakers and dealers, the United Automobile Workers and, crucially, Representative John D. Dingell, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Energy Committee.

A second and much weaker fuel efficiency measure for cars and trucks that was endorsed by the auto industry and Mr. Dingell also will not come to a vote, officials said…

Ms. Pelosi made the tactical decision to prevent a vote on the mileage provision, popularly known as CAFE, for corporate average fuel economy, to avoid a nasty fight among fellow Democrats, who are deeply divided over how far to push struggling Detroit automakers to improve the efficiency of their vehicles.

But because a nearly identical CAFE amendment passed the Senate, there will be another chance to enact mileage standards when the House and Senate versions are reconciled in conference later this year.
Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, sponsored the stricter auto mileage amendment and agreed to have it withdrawn after meeting with the speaker late Wednesday afternoon.

“This strategy preserves unity in the House and the prospect of a strong 35 m.p.g. standard in conference,” he said in an interview Wednesday evening. “I believe we have a majority in the House willing to support my amendment, and I believe it will be part of the legislation that ultimately passes this Congress.”

Bonus points if you can work in Pelosi’s quote about “loving” Dingell, or a reminder about Monday’s welcome home party for the Congressman.

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15 Comments

  1. TheoG
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Dingell is beholden to auto industry. Pelosi is not. Simple. Dingell wants to save jobs. Pelosi wants to save the world. Dingell’s on the wrong side of this one, and his legacy hangs in the balance.

    The problem is, global warming isn’t stopping. We don’t have the luxury of time. Detroit, like it or not, needs to be awakened to the new realities of the world. The world is getting hotter, the oil is running out, and the countries with the oil want to kill us. A “perfect storm” is brewing, and yet they want to keep shitting out SUVs that get 14 miles to the gallon. They just don’t get it. Their business model is fucked. If the big 3 don’t see it, Dingell needs to.

  2. Average Joe
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I found this on welthdaily.net. While ti doens’t talk about Pelosi it does reference the flip floping inherent in the dance between the two (http://www.wealthdaily.net/article.php?id=129&pub=gcr)

    I read an article in the Washington Post today that I thought was articulate, succinct, and correct. And it was all those things. But it wasn’t sincere. It couldn’t have been.

    The article, “The Power in the Carbon Tax,” made several good points. Among them was that environmental laws should not only discourage bad behavior, but encourage good behavior as well.

    The article also called for a carbon tax–including a tax on gasoline–and the creation of a cap-and-trade carbon system. Both good ideas, and ones I favor as well.

    I must admit, I thought the article was great–timely and well written. But then I saw who wrote it: Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

    Only the byline didn’t say all that. It simply read: John D. Dingell. To the layperson, that could be anyone.

    I literally slapped myself on the forehead. Who does this guy think he is?

    More Flip-Flops Than Margaritaville

    While the ideas presented in the article were good ones, most were either far astray from what the Congressmen has been adamantly fighting for in Congress or disguised to make his view seem better than it really is. Some statements even contradict what Mr. Dingell said just one day before.

    Let’s take them one by one.

    1) “I have also endorsed a minimum 30 to 35 percent increase in vehicle fuel economy standards.”

    Yes, you sure have, Mr. Dingell. But you failed to mention that the bill you favor would give automakers until 2022 to reach 32 miles per gallon, with escape clauses in the event of technological or economic obstacles.

    There are so many things wrong with that, I hardly know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with a question: What “technological obstacles” could there possibly be? Especially when the highest average overall fuel economy for both cars and light trucks in the U.S. was reached in 1987.

    And as far as economic obstacles go: I guess you wouldn’t want to offend your constituents at GM and the other Detroit players by twisting their arm to do something that was inherently good. Surely, you see the good effects of their lobbying efforts, being a representative from Michigan.

    Plus, if you’re such a fan of increasing fuel economy, why didn’t you back Edward Markey’s (D-Mass) proposal of raising the standard to a universal 35 mpg by 2018? Would that have put a wrench in the plans of your Detroit automakers?

    2) “I said, as I have on many occasions, that we would have to go to some kind of cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions.”

    I’ll let an article printed in the Washington Post just the day before clear this up: “He [Dingell] is critical of the cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gases that many senators have embraced because, he said, it has not worked well in Europe and is a tax mechanism in disguise. He said if Congress opts for a cap-and-trade approach it should learn from ‘the follies’ of Europe.”

    Which is it?

    Maybe this excerpt, from the previous article, hit the nail on the head: “Some lobbyists have suggested that Dingell was so unlikely to win support for his tax approach that the Democrat, the longest-serving member of the House, was simply maneuvering to make sure no legislation on fuel economy is adopted at all.”

    You can’t be a public servant at the same time you’re fighting for the best possible outcome for special interest groups. The former makes you a congressman. The latter makes you a prick.

    Right About One Thing

    In his propaganda piece, Mr. Dingell notes that, “History shows that we respond to market forces.”

    It sure does.

    Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Dingell. That’s exactly what we’re seeing now.

    Toyota’s hybrid sales in the U.S. totaled 61,635 units in the first quarter of this year–an increase of 68% over the same period last year. In March of this year, Prius sales were up 133% from the same month, the year prior.

    And let us not forget that Toyota recently overtook GM as the world’s largest automaker. Plus, with production facilities popping up all over the country, Toyota is quickly earning a reputation as the most American car you can buy.

    As you are well aware, the news out of Detroit isn’t so upbeat. Maybe that’s why they need your help. I guess that’s what happens when you fail to adapt–you wither and die.

    But not all are as mulish as the American auto industry. Some companies have noticed a shift in market sentiment and acted accordingly.

    These are companies focused on renewable energy, energy conservation, and increasing the availability of fresh water.

    And they’re already making a killing, with plenty more to come. All without sacrificing quality or buying votes in Congress.

    The market gets what the market wants. And Green Chip has the track record to prove it.

    We consistently reap the benefits of investing in companies that are providing real solutions for a changing world.

    To find out more about how to profit from companies that are making a difference, or just to show your discontent with Mr. Dingell and his like-minded associates, click here.

    Until next time,

    Nick

  3. Ol E' Cross
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    The whole thing doesn’t sit well with me. The US auto companies are an easy target and a representative from Massachusetts can pretend he’s saving the planet by pushing for standards that don’t hurt him at home.

    Whether he’s sincere or not, I think Dingell’s right that, “the best way to change fuel economy is to tax carbon or gasoline so people buy more-efficient cars.”

    Noting that he backed President Bill Clinton’s ill-fated energy and gasoline taxes, he said, “I am one who believes that unless and until we have achieved economic incentives for conservation of energy, there will be very little conservation of energy.”

    Better gas mileage isn’t an incentive for conservation.

    Driving will use less fuel, but it will also cost less to drive. It needs to cost more.

    Despite 50 percent gains in fuel economy since the 1970s, U.S. oil consumption has grown steadily along with annual vehicle miles traveled. Our cars use less gas, but we still use more oil.

    It’s established that increasing fuel economy increases driving. There is still an overall gain, but it’s somewhat offset.

    The only time Americans are proven to ease off the pedal is when it hurts them at the pump.

    That said, I do think we’re overdue for upping the average mpg.

    (Pssst: Auto company engineers who aren’t quite sure how to achieve lower mpgs, here’s a hint: use smaller engines.)

  4. brian r
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I must preface this by saying that I make my living by being employed by one of America’s domestic automobile manufacturers. With that said, I think CAFE is one of the greatest red herrings going today — and not because of my job.

    I’m all in favor of increasing fuel economy, but to make it a centerpiece in any global warming action plan is imprudent. If the purpose is to reduce greenhouse gases, making it cheaper to drive more is going to generate the exact opposite effect everyone is hoping to achieve.

    Increasing fuel economy will make it more affordable for people to drive more miles. It will give people the opportunity to live even further from their jobs. It will discourage the use of public transportation. And it won’t make people think about jumping in the car to go where ever.

    It certainly won’t make people drive more fuel efficient cars. In the next three years, Toyota is going to open a small SUV plant in Ontario, a large SUV plant in Mississippi, and a full-size truck plant in Texas. To suggest the Big 3 are cranking out gas hogs because that is their desire is inaccurate. They sure are profitable and the margins we make on them are important to my job security, but it’s still about demand not supply. And Toyota and Honda realize this. It’s true people are moving away from the 15-21mpg Ford Explorers and Toyota Sequoias, but they are moving toward 18-25mpg Ford Edges and Toyota Highlanders.

    More fuel efficient cars on the road is a great thing, but there are currently about 210 million cars on the roads now. Each year the industry sells 16 million more. The cumulative impact is small.

    As far as the Big 3 being out of touch, all of the 205 million cars on the road today collectively produce about 320 million metric tons of carbon per year. The Big 3 is responsible for 71% of those cars and 73% of the carbon emissions. That needs work, but it’s not quite the picture of an archaic industry. (To be honest, the reason the Big 3 do not have a more equivalent ratio of market share to carbon emissions is because of DaimlerChrysler.)

    I’m not trying discourage increasing CAFE, but if you want to make a more dramatic impact on greenhouse gases and global warming, convince people to become vegetarians.

    And don’t get me started on the notion that Dingell is trying to save US automaker jobs. If that was his goal, he’d be working on health care.

    I’ll probably show up for the Dingell event, but most likely I’ll be roaming the parking lots cutting valve stems off of Toyotas and Hondas.

  5. amguy
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Dingell Washington Post Op-Ed. Thought folks would like this…

    The Power in the Carbon Tax

    By John D. Dingell
    Thursday, August 2, 2007; A21

    Successful laws to protect the environment are built on simple concepts. They discourage harmful behavior — the dumping of sewage or industrial waste into bodies of water, the destruction of habitat, the emission of toxic chemicals — by a variety of measures, all of which raise the cost of engaging in certain behavior. You can’t develop land, and profit, if you’re endangering a threatened animal. You have to dispose of chemical substances responsibly. And so on.

    Good environmental law can also encourage good behavior: the development of alternative approaches, such as substances that cause less harm, or new technologies.

    We should keep this in mind when discussing carbon. How do we raise the cost of emitting carbon, promoting conservation and efficiencies, and make alternatives more economically viable, thus addressing the problem of climate change?

    Alternative energy sources — those that are not carbon-based or substantially improve on (i.e., reduce) carbon emissions relative to the fuels we now consume — are fairly well known: wind, biofuels (cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel), solar, waves, geothermal and nuclear.

    Each source of energy faces obstacles. For example, wind and nuclear power present “not in my back yard” challenges, as we’re seeing with efforts to install a wind farm off Cape Cod, Mass., while ethanol plants are welcomed with generous subsidies in the Farm Belt. Some raise issues regarding land use. All are more expensive to produce than the energy we currently use.

    There is general agreement that we should devote more research and development funding to alternative energy and, in some cases, subsidize development. But there are limited dollars available and debates about the relative merits of each, rooted in regional differences.

    I don’t mean to dismiss improvements to existing technologies. The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently approved legislation to require 43 separate efficiency standards for appliances, buildings and more. When fully implemented, the standards will reduce carbon emissions by 8.6 billion tons, an amount equal to the annual emissions of all the cars on the road today. I have also endorsed a minimum 30 to 35 percent increase in vehicle fuel economy standards.

    But to get the emissions reductions we need, we must do more.

    I apparently created a mini-storm last month when I observed publicly for at least the sixth time since February that some form of carbon emissions fee or tax (including a gasoline tax) would be the most effective way to curb carbon emissions and make alternatives economically viable. I said, as I have on many occasions, that we would have to go to some kind of cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions.

    A carbon tax or fee has been endorsed by President Bush’s former chief economic adviser, Greg Mankiw; Nobel Prize-winning conservative economist Gary Becker; the chief executive of the largest U.S. auto-dealer chain, Mike Jackson; and several environmental organizations. From Alan Greenspan to Greenpeace, many recognize its utility.

    There may be disagreements as to the proper level or the best use of revenue. The United Mine Workers support a fuel-based fee that would fund carbon sequestration. Others have suggested using the revenue to reduce Social Security taxes. Congress must hash out the details.

    History shows that we respond to market forces. Between 1980 and 1981, the fuel economy of the vehicles Americans purchased increased 16 percent. That wasn’t because of a technological breakthrough or a regulatory requirement. It was because the price of gas had risen to the point where consumers made fuel economy a priority. Market forces and mechanisms proved far more powerful than mandates.

    I don’t expect to overcome ideological Republican opposition to all forms of taxation, but if CEOs, economists, environmentalists and citizens speak out, we could effect real change. I don’t pretend to speak for my party on this; I’m trying to speak to common sense and experience.

    Former vice president Al Gore told the Energy and Commerce Committee this year: “We should start using the tax code to reduce taxes on employment and production, and make up the difference with pollution taxes, principally [on] CO2. Now I fully understand that this is considered politically impossible. But part of our challenge is to expand the limits of what’s possible. Right now we are discouraging work and encouraging the destruction of the planet’s habitability.”

    He’s right. This Congress may be able to enact a cap-and-trade system, and other policies to address climate change, only without a carbon fee. Ultimately, though, we’re going to have to be more ambitious.

    The writer, a Democratic representative from Michigan, is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

  6. Ol E' Cross
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Brian R and I almost actually agree?

    I’ll have to rethink my position.

  7. egpenet
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    My idea would be to get into Dingell’s Ypsi office over the weekend …

    Take all his furniture and set it up in the middle of the Water Street field with a note saying: “Hope you like your new office. Signed: Nancy”

    Be a great gag!

  8. Ol' E Cross
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    My automotive ownership history* (*as best as I can recall):

    1) 84 Dodge Colt, 39 mpg
    2) 90 Dodge Colt, 39 mpg
    3) 88 Subaru AWD wagon, 33 mpg
    4) 90 Dodge Colt Vista (bigg version) 36 mpg
    5) 82 AMC 4×4 Eagle, 15 mpg (but it was a sweet-honkin rusted-ass ride with checkerboard seats and a gas tank hidden behind the rear liscence plate and I prayed for unplowed streets)
    6) 84 VW Rabbit, 36 mpg (leaky convertible, also functioned as a rain barrel)
    7) 92 Mitsubishi Expo (aka, big Dodge Colt), 28 mpg
    8) After being beaten down by major repairs and sleeping stranded on roadsides from several of the above poor choices, we opted for our first smell of new car, the current ride: 2003 crappy AWD import wagon, 31 mpg.

    I was really pissed in 03 when the comparable new cars I was looking at got the same/worse mpg than I’d gotten with cars produced nearly a decade previous.

    I understand, that strictly speaking, the global warming side of things means that what comes out of the tailpipe is more important than what goes in. I don’t know what the emissions of my 84 Colt was. Maybe all the technology went to the car’s ass.

    But, it’s hard for me to believe the industry couldn’t have done better. As a consumer, I was pissed. The consumer side of me wants lowered-powered higher-mpg options.

    The other side of me is pissed at the thought that many of our elect are using this as the PR solution to global warming: “Look at me! I voted to increase the CAFE! I’m bringing back the cold!”

    Hence, my conflict. I want better mpgs. But, I don’t want to give the general elected a talking point to pretend they did anything substantive to make a difference.

  9. mark
    Posted August 4, 2007 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    You make good points. A real solution would contain both a gas tax and greater fuel efficiency… I do think, however, that greater fuel economy has to be part of it. I love free markets, but I don’t think, as a culture, we should be cranking out tanks for the super-wealthy who can afford them. We have to draw a line.

  10. Posted August 5, 2007 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    OEC, you’re obviously delusional. You don’t want low-powered, high-mileage cars, really. Why can’t you just admit it? You’re just wrong.

    It’s a good thing the automotive industry is looking out for you – otherwise, your history suggests you’d continue to make terrible mistakes in your car purchase decisions.

    If you’d just take their advice, they’ve even made it easy for you – why else would the “colt” and “pinto” no longer be available, while “pony cars” still are if they weren’t trying to help you get over your ridiculous fixation on mileage?

    (If I were you, I wouldn’t be so open about your sordid past with “low performace” vehicles. People might be inclined to jump to conclusions about “low performance” in other areas of your life. You want to be a man, right? Then stop reminiscing about your Colts and try out this nice Escalade. There, doesn’t that feel better?)

  11. egpenet
    Posted August 5, 2007 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Take heart, OEC …

    Used lots are filled with great buys these days on heavy, high powereed, reasonable mileage products (15-20 mpg)!

    Correction: My 1993 Aerostar does NOT have 213,000+ miles … it has 214,000+ this week! 18-20 mpg highway. Same engine, same trannie. I need new wipers, though. And since I’m doing more walking, the guys at the BP have forgotten my name and my cigarette brand.

  12. Posted August 6, 2007 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    This weekend our long awaited energy bill passed through the House. Dingell voted against investing in renewable energy – something that was pretty surprising to us here, considering the renewable energy ammendment means thousands of jobs for Michigan. Not only did Dingell vote against the ammendment, but he was rallying other Democrats behind closed doors to stand with him! It’s becoming clear that Dingell’s alllegiances are better alligned with special interest groups rather than his constituents, so our job is ever more pressing. We need to tell Rep. Dingell that Michigan wants him to reduce our global warming pollution, invest in clean energy, and increase efficiency standards. Dingell CAN stop global warming, but whether or not he does is up to us.

  13. ypsidweller
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    The 35 mpg goal targeted for many many moons from now by Dingell and others doesn’t hold water because around 1980 my Ford Fiesta got about 40-42 mpg, followed by an Escort in the late 1980s and 1990s that got 36-38 mpg, followed by a late-1990s model (another Escort) that gets appreciably less, 32 mpg on a good day but more like 28 mpg otherwise. (I’m averaging city and highway mileage.)

    If over time U.S. automakers can design cars to get worse fuel economy, surely they can go the other way. And I’m not even comparing a Fiesta with an SUV–a later model of the very same car was built to get worse fuel economy, which is ridiculous.

  14. brian r
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Worsening fuel economy is a trend of all automakers. Honda Civics are now the same size as a Honda Accord was back in 1986. A 1985 Accord had 86 hp. A 2008 has 180 hp. As a loyal Escort owner, I’m sure you realize your 1980 Fiesta had 45 hp and your late 90s Escort had 120 hp.

  15. ypsidweller
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    And yet the sweet little Fiesta, which people likened to a tin can, somehow had its own kind of pep. And back then, even with semis and some pickups and Continentals and Econoline vans, it was not nearly as stressful and terrifying out on the highway in a small car as it is today. (Am I also longing for a 55 mph speed limit on the highway?! I think I am.)

    I read somewhere that people are buying small cars but not to replace their others but to have alongside, to save on gas sometimes. My hope is that when people who’ve been driving big vehicles feel what it’s like driving these roads in a small car, how aggressive are the too-powerful SUVs and trucks in the hands of just regular people (often on their cell phones), etc., that they’ll shun the big vehicles. But even as I write this, I think it’s faulty logic. More likely they would decide it’s better to be behind the wheel of a big monster and pay more to drive than to be nearly mowed down by one while driving a little car.

    (The greater power of my newer Escort is a ridiculous thing–it’s quick in first gear and then otherwise very modest, rattles too much beyond 70 mph to go any faster, which is fine. It was a kooky idea from the start to “rev up” the Escort, and that is being so polite. The loyalty is sometimes frustrating, as I like VW’s and Toyotas and Hondas, but it means a lot to my father, who worked so hard for Ford, that I drive a Ford–so the company has at least one buyer to count on, every ten years or so!)

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