We're talking the EPA, NHTSA, the automakers, California -- hell, it's even the Republicans and Democrats nodding their heads together. I'm going to check the sky tonight to see if there are two blue moons.
The U.S. has announced a commitment to establish a unified national program that sets tailpipe emissions standards and accelerates a new fuel economy standard.
The short version seems to be that fuel economy standards and tailpipe emission standards will be uniform across the country, and the standards will be set in stone until 2016. According to various reports, this means that California won't need a waiver for its stricter-than-usual standards (although it will be able to enforce its own limits until a national standard is set), the automakers that are taking the state to court over its standards will drop their lawsuits, and most importantly, the auto companies will be able to plan their vehicles for all 50 states, without having to worry that they'll meet a standard over here, and then be looking at a new one over there.
I sat down one day with the vice-president of Honda Canada, who said that was the toughest thing. "Tell us what we have to meet, and we'll meet it," he said. "Just give us one standard to meet."
Well, it looks like he got his wish. And what's even more surprising is that, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, this means that three regulatory bodies, 15 states, a dozen automakers and various environmental groups agreed to work together on a national program.
Never thought I'd live long enough to hear that, I must say.