Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
On Wednesday, the White House formally issued a proposal to nearly double automotive fuel efficiency standards by 2025. The proposal to boost the standards to 54.5 miles per gallon – a jump from the 27.3 mpg required today – comes on the heels of an agreement President Obama reached this summer with automakers.
Here’s a glance at five responses to the news:
Dan Becker, Safe Climate Campaign
“It is not every decade that a president does something to simultaneously help the environment, consumers and the auto industry. President Obama has done just that. These standards are the biggest single step any nation has taken to fight global warming. They will slash our oil addiction.”
Gas prices continue to go up nationwide, and in Michigan they’ve hit a record . According to GasBuddy.com, parts of Michigan are now paying more than $4.29 for a gallon of gasoline, partly because refinery problems are leading to a decline in gasoline supplies in the area. That’s not quite as expensive as Chicago, but still an eye opener in the state that’s home to American auto companies. Meanwhile, the Ohio Petroleum Council says the death of Osama bin Laden isn’t expected to push gas prices any lower.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced that Michigan is getting $4 million more to secure its border with Ontario, Canada through improved communications systems. The money is part of a larger effort to increase emergency response measures along the Canadian and Mexican borders.
Michigan based automaker Chrysler says it plans to pay back the government bailout it received during the recession by the end of June. Chrysler received $7.4 billion in loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments. The company said they will pay back the remaining $6.6 billion it still owes as long as economic conditions remain steady. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was one of the chief architects of the government loans given to Chrysler and GM. He will be making an appearance at the Detroit Economic Club today. Geithner will discuss economic matters with local political, business, and community leaders.
If you need gas for the Easter holiday, you might want to fuel up now, because prices are supposed to go even higher. The average gas price in Michigan is expected to jump between $4.05 and $4.15 a gallon. As you can see from this picture, gas prices in Chicago are well passed the $4.00 a gallon mark.
General Motors cars and trucks are getting more expensive. The Detroit based car company says it will raise the prices of its vehicles by about $123 dollars to make up for jumps in the cost of oil and metal starting May 2nd. GM is the third company recently to announce an increase in auto prices, joining Toyota and Ford.
In other auto news, electric cars have won the favor of the Obama administration. Now, hydrogen fuel cell cars are trying to do the same. Supporters say hydrogen powered cars are ready for the mass market, but U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu disagrees. Since there’s not federal funding backing up the research, these cars – such as the Honda FCX Clarity – costs about $600 a month to lease.