Prez: 'One nation, under oil'

Danny Hakim's New York Times article about Bush's, um, ambitious fuel economy proposal starts out promisingly:

The silver Lincoln Navigator used Tuesday by Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta to travel to a news conference at a Los Angeles Mobil station would cost $78 to fill up. With regular, that is. Premium gas at the station goes for $3 a gallon, so replenishing the vehicle's 28-gallon tank could cost as much as $84.
Gas here in the Bay Area has shot up to $3 a gallon. Even filling up a very efficient car will set you back nearly $30. Our economy is on the brink of disaster as the companies that use trucks to ship all those goods that keep us fat and happy look ahead to near-limitless gas price climbs. Prices will skyrocket, consumer buying will plummet, and we'll have another Bush-induced recession or depression.

So yesterday, when our beloved President proposed new regulations for fuel economy, any person with a shred of optimism left would assume that he intends to ask automakers to maybe increase our pathetic national fuel average. Maybe somehow spur the development of alternative fuels, or encourage people to buy more efficient cars.

Instead, Bush proposed to raise fuel economy a whopping 2.8 mpg over 6 years, up to 24 mpg in 2011 from 21.2 mpg today. Considering that the plan is "optional until 2010," something tells me this won't make a big difference in the lovely brown smog covering our cities and suburbs.

The most damning aspect of this deeply depressing plan is not the meager, optional increases in fuel economy, or that Bush expressly created this plan to "lower gas bills for sport utility vehicles," instead of somehow encouraging people to buy efficient, not-obscenely-wasteful vehicles.

No, the worst part of this story is that the proposed plan also explicity and implicitly prevents any states from requiring higher gas standards. Here, Bush is giving the middle finger to California, which is already faced with some of the worst air in the country, and its attempts to require automakers to increase fuel economy and decrease emissions.

The Center for American Progress's always excellent Progress Report has much more on this whole sordid affair.

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