Quit whining and build cleaner cars

By Jim DiPeso

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: The following letter to the editor was published on May 17, 2002 in the Detroit News.



California ought to be applauded for its initiative in setting carbon dioxide standards, not denigrated by apologists for the automakers’ “can’t-do” attitude.

As Yogi Berra would say, it’s deja vu all over again. Detroit’s excuses have conjured visions of economic apocalypse when presented with demands to produce cleaner, safer cars. Take your pick — tailpipe standards, seat belts, air bags, fuel efficiency requirements. You name it, Detroit has fought it, claiming the automakers would lose money and consumers would be forced to buy undesirable vehicles.

After all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, however, automakers met the standards, improved their products and still made money. There is no reason to believe they can’t do so again.

Since the federal government refuses to act, let the states step in. Rather than give in to gloom-mongering about economic harm, we should view global warming solutions as economic opportunities. Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through greater energy efficiency and development of new technologies will reduce business costs, stimulate investment and create jobs. Can-do companies will lead the way. Can’t-do companies will fall behind.

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