OP-ED COLUMNIST This Is a Big Deal By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN Published: December 3, 2011
IN many ways, President Obama has been a disappointment on energy and the environment. He has been completely missing in action on the climate debate. His decision to block his own Environmental Protection Agency from setting new rules to cut smog levels was disappointing. And, while I believe in using the balance sheet of the U.S. government to spur clean-tech research and start-ups, Solyndra was a case of embarrassing excess — precisely what happens when you rely too much on government push not consumer pull, spurred by price and regulatory signals.
But, for me, all is forgiven — because Obama came through big-time last month.
He backed his great E.P.A. administrator, Lisa Jackson, and Department of Transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, in producing a deal with all the top U.S.-based automakers that will go into effect in 2017 and require annual mileage improvements of 5 percent for cars, and a little less for light trucks and S.U.V.’s, until 2025 — when U.S. automakers will have to reach a total fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon. The current average is 27.5 m.p.g.
This deal will help America’s cars and trucks approach the mileage levels of Europe and Japan and spur innovation in power trains, aerodynamics, batteries, electric cars and steel and aluminum that will make cars lighter ……………