Better Late Than Never

NWF   |   May 15, 2007

I welcome President Bush’s continued shift on global warming, which was announced yesterday when, after six years of inaction, the President called for regulations to boost fuel economy. This is a welcome sign – it’s better late than never. I’m eagerly awaiting, along with others, more details from the administration on how quickly and boldly they will move on fuel economy standards to make up for lost time. In the meantime, Congress should promptly advance plans to boldly bolster fuel economy while cutting carbon emissions through legislation.

Until consumers have real fuel economy choices in the cars they buy and drive, Americans will be held hostage at the pump by oil companies. Our fuel economy standards have not been seriously updated in decades. Consequently, the average fuel economy of cars sold today is worse than it was during the era of the 8-track tape player. While technological breakthroughs have happened to improve efficiency, they have not been adopted by American manufacturers who have promoted gas guzzlers. What’s missing is the political will to get better designs and technologies off of the engineering drawing board and into driveways on a massive scale.

Yesterday’s announcement from the White House continues a shift in the right direction on global warming, but the President’s proposals have not been drafted and fail to measure up to the urgency of the global warming threat to the future of America’s security, wildlife and economy. The President is dipping a few oars in the water, but he has not fully turned the ship to the right destination.

We need to start now with mandatory programs that guarantee results. We need to set goals to cut actual emissions (not the silly “carbon intensity”) from all sources, including automobiles, by at least 20 percent over the next decade. The President’s plan is neither comprehensive nor adequate.

To limit global warming, we must start now and put ourselves on track to reduce pollution by at least two percent of 2007 emissions each and every year, ultimately cutting pollution by 80 percent by mid-century. We can do that.

America must choose between a fundamentally different planet or a fundamentally different energy future that breaks our oil addiction and aggressively opens the path to clean, safe alternative and renewable sources of fuel.

I look forward to working on a bipartisan basis with Congress to advance effective global warming policies, and to working with the Bush Administration where and when we have common ground.

Recent polls demonstrate that the vast majority of Americans believe global warming is a serious threat and they want our government to act now. Leaders in Congress are already moving on global warming with plans that include binding measures to broadly curb global warming pollution. Time is not on our side. The National Wildlife Federation will be assisting those efforts as our urgent priority.

Published: May 15, 2007