December 10, 2008

Big Three Bailout - Responses

I've had a lot of responses to my previous recommendations regarding how we should be thinking about Detroit.

There have been those who think electric cars will never work.

There are those who think electric cars are a good idea, but batteries aren't the right storage solution.

There are those who think that electric cars and batteries are reasonable solutions, but that we'll run out of lithium long before we run out of oil.

There are those who think hydrogen cars are the answer and there are those who think hydrogen cars are pure lunacy.

I will plan to discuss some of those comments a little later, but for today I encourage you to read Thomas Friedman's op-ed piece While Detroit Slept in today's (Dec 10th) New York Times.

He believes that investing in Detroit's current business model will be just like

"... pouring billions of dollars into improving typewriters on the eve of the birth of the PC and the Internet."

" ... pouring billions of dollars into the CD music business on the eve of the birth of the iPod and iTunes."

His conclusion -

"If we miss the chance to win the race for Car 2.0 because we keep mindlessly bailing out Car 1.0, there will be no one to blame more than Detroit’s new shareholders: we the taxpayers."

He also believes that Shai Agassi's company has the right business model.

"It is Shai Agassi’s electric car network company, called Better Place. Just last week, the company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., announced a partnership with the state of Hawaii to road test its business plan there after already inking similar deals with Israel, Australia, the San Francisco Bay area and, yes, Denmark."

December 7, 2008

Bush Tearing Apart Environmental Standards

Among the Bush administration's final environmental legacies will be a decision to exempt perchlorate, a known toxin found at unsafe levels in the drinking water of millions of Americans, from federal regulation.

The ruling, proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency in October, was supposed to be formalized on Monday. That deadline passed, but the agency expects to announce its decision by the year's end, before president-elect Barack Obama takes office. It could take years to reverse.

George Bush is working at a breakneck pace to dismantle at least 10 major environmental safeguards protecting America's wildlife, national parks and rivers before he leaves office in January.

With barely 60 days to go until Bush hands over to Barack Obama, his White House is working methodically to weaken or reverse an array of regulations that protect America's wilderness from logging or mining operations, and compel factory farms to clean up dangerous waste.

In the latest such move this week, Bush opened up some 800,000 hectares (2m acres) of land in Rocky Mountain states for the development of oil shale, one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet. The law goes into effect on January 17, three days before Obama takes office.

The timing is crucial. Most regulations take effect 60 days after publication, and Bush wants the new rules in place before he leaves the White House on January 20. That will make it more difficult for Obama to undo them.

December 6, 2008

Big Three Bailout?

The following is the text of a letter I sent to my US Senators and my Congressman. I encourage you to do the same.

Dear Senator,

I am not in favor of providing a bridge loan to nowhere for the Big Three automakers. Please do not approve a bailout as currently proposed by the Big Three.

If we are going to provide the Big Three with a loan, it should be with the understanding that the Big Three will agree to use the money to build the kind of cars our nation needs to break our dependence on foreign oil.

If you want an example of how we can do that quickly and relatively cheaply, please read this article.

I haven't read anything that gives me more hope for our future in a long time. I went to hear Shai Agassi speak at Harvard University on Thursday night. He has a brilliant plan for solving this current crisis.

With no long term sustainable plan from Detroit, a bailout of $34 billion will be good money after bad and Detroit will be back asking the taxpayers for more before the end of 2009.

With a long term and sustainable plan like Shai Agassi's we can once again be proud of our nation and our auto industry.

Thank you,
Mark Sandeen