CHICAGO -- As hot and harmful air pollution heats the world and chokes Phoenix and other cities, the 'Detroit three' auto makers and United Auto Workers (UAW) leaders are holding an 'astroturf' rally today against significant improvements to US fuel economy standards (CAFE).
As a union supporter who was born and raised in a car town in Michigan, I say this is a fight industry is very likely to lose, and unwise for UAW to support.
I call the industry rally 'astroturf' instead of 'grassroots' because it is so clearly boosted by big corporate money and paid employees, not the usual volunteers and concerned citizens motivated by the public good.
The Detroit three, GM, Ford and Chrysler (no longer called the big three because of Toyota's dominance) are foolishly short-sighted to try to fight off big boosts to fuel economy standards.
People want much more efficient vehicles and less pollution. Our future demands more energy efficiency now to help curb the huge economic and environmental threat of global warming and related climate change.
Smart UAW members will not be fooled by BS threats from untrustworthy rich auto executives that needed raises in fuel economy will shut down the industry. US mileage standards lag behind almost all other nations.
UAW members should support significantly higher standards as one of the best ways to improve American competitiveness in the US and world car markets.
Instead of fighting against progress, the Detroit three and UAW should work cooperatively with congress and conservationists for the public interest in energy conservation. Taking responsibility and offering cooperation would help industry out of the hole it's in partly due to over-reliance on gas-guzzling SUVs.
The best way for the US auto industry to keep killing itself and American jobs is to keep on building gas-guzzlers most people really don't want.
I drive a VW Passat TDI, a stylish fast car with a turbo-diesel engine I run on biodiesel. I would've preferred to buy a similar car made by the Detroit three, but I can't because they don't even make one.
I won't buy a Hummer or other gas guzzler just to buy an American brand, nor will most people. Chicagoland has the highest gas prices in the nation, currently $3.15 a gallon. I suspect the industry astroturf will have a hard time today convincing the woman and man on the street that they should support weak fuel economy standards.
Without significantly higher fuel economy, the Detroit three and UAW will continue to fail in the marketplace as Toyota, VW, Honda, Nissan and others build more cars more people want.
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