Thursday, March 02, 2006

Fuel For Thought

My biggest criticism of Barack Obama as Senator has been his seeming lack of legislative initiative. (I say seeming because I’m relying on media reports, a dangerous thing to do). But Kevin Drum points us to a Knight Ridder article on a new energy proposal Obama has devised.
WASHINGTON - Trying to jump-start gains in auto fuel efficiency after decades of
inaction, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is proposing an unusual swap for the Big Three U.S. carmakers: Washington would pay some of Detroit's multibillion-dollar health costs in exchange for it making cars that get higher gasoline mileage.

The federal government would pay 10 percent of the $6.7 billion in annual health costs for retirees that are weighing down General Motors, Ford and Chrysler if they'll commit to building more fuel-efficient cars, Obama proposed in a speech Tuesday before a panel at the National Governors Association conference. He called it a "win-win proposal for the industry."


"We look forward to working with the senator in finding solutions," said Mike Moran, a spokesman for Ford.

Car industry lobbyists were caught off-guard by Obama's proposal and said they needed time to think about it.
Kevin details some of the other aspects of Obama’s proposal given in a recent speech (transcript of that speech here). Obama wants to “raise fuel economy standards by 3% a year over the next fifteen years, starting in 2008” and promote bio-fuel efforts including:
Ramp up new fuel standards that will result in production of 65 billion gallons of alternative fuels per year by 2025.
Mandate that the federal government buy only flex fuel vehicles.

Within ten years, mandate that every car in America is a flex fuel vehicle. Include a $100 tax credit per vehicle to ease the pain.

Put yellow gas caps on all flex fuel vehicles.

Provide a $30,000 tax credit to any gas station that installs E85 pumps (i.e., a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline).
There’s nothing very sexy here so I’m not sure how much attention the media is going to pay to this. I think the proposal to be fairly modest but it certainly would move things in the right direction. And it’s good to see Obama taking the lead on something. Given his political superstar status I think he would have a better chance than many to get his message out. I hope we soon see more initiatives.

1 comment:

AmericanPatriotLegion said...

This is a very good start. It is not so extreme that the big 3 will balk at it, but it gets the wheels turning. I am also glad to see Obama finally coming out of the new Senator on the floor shell.