Monday, November 22, 2004

Slade Gorton: Environmentalist

Slade Gorton, former Republican U. S. senator from Washington state, came to town Friday to talk about his role on the 9/11 commission, but he fielded questions of all sorts. Asked about global warming, he said that even as a conservative Republican skeptical of regulation, he believes that the federal fuel efficiency standards were the most effective government regulations he's ever seen. He liked them so much that he introduced bills in the early '90s in the Senate to continue increasing fuel efficiency which had stopped rising under the previous legislation. But, he was opposed by the automotive industry and, most notably, the senators from GM, Ford, and Chrysler, Michigan's two senators at the time, both Democrats. (They were my senators, and one of them still can't bring himself to do the right thing each time the issue comes up.)

Environmentalist lawyer Robert Kennedy Jr. pointed out recently that if we had simply continued to increase fuel efficiency in American cars throughout the '90s, we would have reduced oil consumption by the amount of oil that we currently import from the Middle East.

Sounds like a good deal in retrospect.

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