Detroit's Big Three and the EPA

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate the carbon emissions that cause global warming. In doing so they ruled for an assortment of states and environmental groups, and against the EPA and American automakers.

Add this decision to the daily litany of the Big Three’s woes: falling sales, layoffs and buy-outs, and staggering health care costs, for starters. In our Global Warming Goes to the Supreme Court show we delved into the specifics of the case, including states’ roles in emissions regulation, businesses’ claims they could handle the emissions themselves, and carbon trading. Now we’re wondering what this ruling means for Detroit’s Big Three, and the future of the American auto industry.

Those Big Three now say they’ll work with the EPA to craft new emissions standards. But what kinds of standards can we expect? And are efficiency standards alone the best method for reducing CO2 emissions — especially if our insatiable demand for speed and power remains unchanged?

James Womack

Chairman and Founder, Lean Enterprise Institute

Author, Lean Solutions and The Machine That Changed the World, among many others

Joseph Romm

Founder and Executive Director, Center for Energy & Climate Solutions

Author, Hell and High Water: Global Warming–the Solution and the Politics–and What We Should Do

Blogger, Climate Progress

Kevin Wilson

Senior Editor, AutoWeek

Extra Credit Reading

Jon Gertner, From 0 to 60 to World Domination, The New York Times, February 18, 2007: “By any measure, Toyota’s performance last year, in a tepid market for car sales, was so striking, so outsize, that there seem to be few analogs, at least in the manufacturing world. A baseball team that wins 150 out of 162 games? Maybe.”

David Shepardson, Auto emissions ruling could cost Big Three, The Detroit News, April 3, 2007: “Ann Klee, a former EPA general counsel in the Bush administration, said the decision ‘will dramatically change the regulatory landscape for decades to come, laying the groundwork for far-reaching new air standards based on potential global climate change.'”

Joel Makower, The Detroit Auto Show: Where Did the Green Go?, Joel Makower, January 8, 2007: “This year, environmentally minded vehicles and innovations seemed few and far between. The well-choreographed and elaborately staged press events focused far more on horsepower and high-technology than on hybrids and hydrogen. “Muscle” was probably the show’s most exercised buzzword.”

Sebastian Blanco, AFVI Show: notes on the opening speeches (CIA assassination, GM < Honda, and more), AutoblogGreen, April 3, 2007: “Pete McCloskey was the best of the bunch. He served in the U.S. military and as a Republican in the U.S. Congress and gave the most animated talk of the morning. He gave warnings about our energy future, and told stories about how he helped get Earth Day started and the power of the environment in politics in the ’70s and today.”

Kevin Meyer, That Sneaky Honda!, Evolving Excellence, March 11, 2007: “Our friend Mr. Womack even weighed in. You may recall that a year ago he was taking a pretty light stand on the problems with the Detroit Three until many of us in the blogosphere convinced him to start telling the brutal truth.”

Paul Niedermeyer, Detroit Deathwatch – The Prequel (Part 2), Thr Truth About Cars, March 6, 2007: “If you had to pick a moment when The Big Three’s hegemony ended, it’s October 17, 1973. On that day, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) initiated an embargo that effectively doubled the cost of crude oil. And the resulting price shock tipped the U.S. economy into recession. Even worse, Americans experienced massive gas shortages.”

Brij Singh, Joseph Romm on climate, One More Idea, February 18, 2007: “Dr Michio Kaku’s interview with scientist Joseph Romm was by the far the most chilling scenario I have heard in recent time. Coming from a scientist who knows what he is talking this should make people sit up and do something about this global issue. His book – Hell And High Water; uses tons of scientific data to make dire predictions. Which includes Manhattan under 10 ft of water by 2050!”

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