Tales from the Trail

Has U.S. “missed the boat” on long-range renewable energy planning?

OBAMA/There was President Barack Obama, working a friendly crowd in Henderson, Nevada, not far from Las Vegas. And then a sympathetic comment from a French businessman who wants to see U.S. regulation of climate-warming greenhouse emissions seemed to get the president all wound up.

After noting that the weather has been particularly wild lately — five feet of snow in Washington DC, rain at the Vancouver Olympics — Obama said the best way to “unleash” dynamism in the energy market is to set fuel efficiency standards, notably for cars.

“If you’ve got a fuel-efficiency standard in place that says your car needs to get 20 miles a gallon or 30 miles a gallon, suddenly all these engineers are thinking, well, how do we do that?  And all these companies start coming up with new technologies that make your cars more fuel-efficient.  Ultimately, you end up seeing jobs and businesses thriving in response to the regulation that’s been put there,” Obama told the town hall meeting.

Putting a price on carbon emissions could have the same effect by spurring innovation and ultimately creating jobs, he said.

The transition to cleaner renewable energy isn’t going to happen overnight, the president said.

The First Draft: The environment’s in the air today….

The environment is front and center – at the White House and on Capitol Hill today.

USA/President Barack Obama will propose an aggressive new plan to directly regulate fuel emissions for the first time. Under his proposal average fuel standards for all new passenger vehicles — including the large, gas-guzzling SUVs filling American streets — would rise by 10 miles a gallon to 35.5 miles per gallon between 2012 and 2016.

White House officials say the new fuel emission standards will produce a 30 percent drop in climate-warming carbon emissions over the life of the program.

Obama says Republican tire-gauge gag is “ignorant”

BEREA, Ohio – Democrat Barack Obama dismissed as “ignorant” attempts by Republicans to make fun of his suggestion that Americans properly inflate their car tires to save fuel.

suv.jpgAsked at a St. Louis town hall last week how people could contribute to the effort to conserve fuel, Obama said that steps such as inflating tires to the correct levels could make a difference.

Republicans have seized on the comment to suggest that the advice on tires was the sum total of the energy plan put forth by Obama.