Global environmental challenges
State-by-state rules best for US carbon from cars?
President Barack Obama set in motion a process on Monday that may eventually allow California and other states to set tougher greenhouse gas pollution and efficiency standards on cars than those mandated by the federal government.
Obama’s move sends a signal to the world that the United States is beginning to join the rest of the developed countries to act on emissions blamed for warming the planet.
But some say allowing the states to take control of car emissions could lead to complications within the auto industry by forcing them make two sets of cars. Consumers in California and as many as 18 other states would have to buy one set of cars built according to a set of guidelines and regulations and the other states would have another set of cars that are built differently.
Certainly U.S. car companies have fallen behind in making clean cars that consumers want and the federal government should push them to get on track. But are two sets of rules what the ailing car industry needs right now?
Bill Bumpers, the director of the climate change practice at the law firm Baker Botts in Washington, D.C. doesn’t think so. “These are requirements that would be better off implemented on a national scale,” said Bumpers, who does not represent car companies. He wonders if state-by-state regulations would add expenses for them to comply with the rules.
Many environmentalists have pushed for state-by-state regulation on emissions for exactly the reason that it could pressure companies to lobby for a federal solution rather than go through the headache of complying with a patchwork of regulations throughout the land.
“For a lot of industry players this is going to help them say let’s capitulate, let’s go to Congress, let’s get a comprehensive climate regulatory regime on a national scale,” said Bumpers.
As a sign that the car companies want emissions to be controlled by the government, the Big Three joined earlier this month with other big corporations in lobbying Congress to pass federal economy-wide greenhouse gas regulations.
What do you think, is state-by-state best or should the country act as a whole?
(Photo by Kimberly White)