Will tougher rules hurt our auto industry? Or help do the right thing?


P
resident Obama continues to make good on his campaign promises, overturning or reversing decisions and policies from the Bush Administration.
    Last week, he signed an executive order to close the detention camp at Gitmo within a year. (We talked about his promise to do so early this month on OurValue.org.)
    Yesterday, he signed a presidential memorandum paving the way for states to set their own, tougher auto fuel efficiency and clean air standards.
    More than a dozen states, led by California, have pushed for stricter standards, but were rebuffed by the Bush Administration. These states account for about half of the American car market.
    “Year after year, decade after decade, we’ve chosen delay over decisive action,” said President Obama, quoted by MSNBC. “Rigid ideology has overruled sound science. Special interests have overshadowed common sense. Rhetoric has not led to the hard work needed to achieve results — and our leaders raise their voices each time there’s a spike on gas prices, only to grow quiet when the price falls at the pump.”
    For years, the American auto industry has fought against allowing states to set their own standards, arguing that it results in a “patchwork” of regulations that increases the costs of making cars. And, given that the auto industry is surviving now on public life support, opponents of tougher state-level standards say this move may kill domestic car companies.

    Here’s what I’m thinking: Now’s exactly the right time to impose tougher standards. Tougher standards won’t harm the companies; they will force the companies to take the right path. The auto industry is at a transition point, charting a new course under the supervision of the government. To survive, the auto industry must produce cleaner and more efficient transportation. These new rules are a good way to push the industry in that direction.
    Many Americans put clean air and the energy independence high on their list of value priorities. They are on mine.

    But what do you think about this?
    How do you feel about Obama’s latest move?
    Is it a smart choice, moving us toward a greener, cleaner environment? Or do you see problems in this dramatic step he has taken?

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