Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The decline of the American auto industry just accelerated

One of the outcomes of Tuesday's election is a reorganizing of leadership posts within Congress. Roll Call is reporting that Rep. Henry Waxman of California will challenge Rep. John Dingell for control of the Energy and Commerce Committee. This is potentially big news and portends a rapid decline in the political power of the major automakers. Dingell has led the opposition to stricter fuel economy and emission rules and generally been a full throated supporter of whatever positions the automakers advanced. By removing the Michigan Representative who chairs the committee and always sides with the industry, this change in leadership could dramatically alter the federal regulations on personal transportation, resulting is cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicles that feature more innovative technologies. Much like Detroit's opposition to catalytic converters forty years ago, the auto industry often gets in their own way to the detriment of public health and energy consumption. Maybe transportation policy will get swept up in the tides of change too!

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