U.S. President Barack Obama is moving on the
environmental front, taking steps to cut auto emissions, and promote
fuel-efficient cars. It is all part of a plan to boost energy independence,
while tackling the problem of climate change.
President Obama says it is
time for action on energy and the environment.
"The days of Washington
dragging its heels are over," he said. "My administration will not deny facts.
We will be guided by them."
He says the government must set tougher fuel
efficiency guidelines, and take stronger steps to curb the automobile emissions
blamed for global warming.
"Year after year, decade after decade we have
chosen delay over decisive action," President Obama said. "Rigid ideology has
overruled sound science. Special interests have overshadowed common
Mr. Obama says he wants automakers to improve fuel efficiency
much more quickly than the timetable put forward by former President George
Bush. He also wants to make it easier for states like California to put in place
auto emission standards that go beyond federal guidelines.
California and about a dozen other states tried to set a higher standard, but
Washington stood in the way - a reference to actions taken by his
"I want to be clear from the beginning of this
administration that we have made our choice." he said. "America will not be held
hostage to dwindling resources, hostile regimes, and a warming
But critics argue now is not the time to put an extra burden on
a struggling industry that directly employs hundreds of thousands of people, and
recently appealed for an emergency infusion of government funds.
"It is a
serious challenge for the industry," said Dave Cole, who is with the Center for
Automobile Research. "Whether it really is going to solve the problem of global
climate change is another issue. We know that it would have a very marginal
But environmentalists say the industry should not fear the
change in policy.
"They do have the technology now to meet the
California standards," said Michelle Robinson, who is with the Union of
Concerned Scientists. "This will just require the industry to put that
technology to work sooner."
President Obama says he is aware of the
unique challenges facing the auto industry, and the need to protect taxpayer
money being spent to help General Motors and Chrysler. He says the goal is not
to hinder the recovery of the auto industry, but rather to help America's
automakers prepare for the future.