What do cars and textbooks have in common?

January 26th, 2009
The Austin American-Statesman‘s green blog, “Salsa Verde,” notes President Obama’s directive today to compel federal regulators to quickly accept a recommendation from California and other states to increase fuel efficiency and emissions standards in cars.

Statesman reporter Asher Price, writing in “Salsa Verde,” says that the United States could see one of two outcomes from this fast-tracking: Either our nation will have two car standards (the California one, which will apply mostly to the East and West Coast regions; and the rest of us, which includes the middle of the country, and Texas. Or automakers will decide that it is too hard to divide the country up into two auto markets and implement the higher standards nationwide, including miles and miles of Texas.

This is analogous, Price notes, to the current debates at the State Board of Education regarding textbook adoption: because Texas is such a big customer for textbook publishers, textbook standards for Texas end up becoming defacto national standards since the publishers can’t make a whole lot of versions of textbooks.

California is setting higher standards that the federal government for auto emissions, and now perhaps the Obama administration will follow their lead and require the feds to step up.

This is an important role for big, leading states like California and Texas. Many leaders in Texas view higher emissions and fuel standards for cars as harmful to our unfettered business environment, discounting the benefits to be achieved from higher standards: better air quality, better public health, and an opportunity to create green jobs building and supporting a cleaner auto industry.

We’ll see what happens for Texas and other states as the California standards become approved by the federal government, and continue to work for the day when Texas and California can stand together as leading states, both calling for sound conservation policies that protect our environment while promoting our economies.