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Auto bailout with conditions?

November 17, 2008 |  8:19 pm

Why should Americans bail out General Motors, Chrysler and Ford when all three companies are spending millions fighting proposed government rules to make their fleets more energy-efficient?
Aren't these the folks who got themselves into financial trouble by churning out gas-guzzlers while Japanese carmakers, with their hybrids and fuel-sippers, were doing well by doing good?

Seven attorneys general today wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid demanding that any legislation offering financial support to automakers be subject to the companies' "lessening the carbon footprint of their vehicles."

Automobiles are a major source of the greenhouse gases that are heating up the planet, and, according to scientists, posing dangers of water shortages, higher sea levels and wildfires.

Any bailout bill should be contingent on the carmakers' dropping their lawsuits fighting the landmark carbon dioxide tailpipe standards passed by California and more than a dozen other states, the officials wrote.

Those standards have been blocked by the Bush administration, but even if Barack Obama supports their enactment, auto companies vow to fight any national regulation.

"If the U.S. auto industry is serious about taking millions in aid from our pockets, it must show us that it too is serious about global warming and taking a leading (and therefore profitable) role as a producer of fuel-efficient and carbon-sensitive vehicles," the attorneys general wrote.

They are Jerry Brown of California, William Sorrell of Vermont, Douglas Gansler of Maryland, Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, Hardy Myers of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island.

— Margot Roosevelt