With all the attention on the debt-ceiling, it was easy to miss some of the other news -- good and bad -- coming from Washington, D.C.
One bit of good news was that the White House announced a proposed fuel-efficiency standard for passenger cars and trucks of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The standard would also reduce tailpipe emissions to 163 grams per mile. If this proposed standard can be finalized, without adding loopholes and giveaways for automakers, it'll mean steady and significant progress on reducing our dependence on oil for the next 15 years. By itself, it won't be enough -- we still need to develop smart transportation and more livable towns and cities -- but it's a move in the right direction.
Unfortunately, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Congress is considering a "slash and burn" 2012 spending bill for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency that is the most environmentally destructive legislation we've ever seen. This bill has nearly 40 riders tacked onto it that, unless defeated, will open the Grand Canyon to uranium mining, gut protections for our health and our water, endanger our wild places and wildlife, block protections against deadly mercury and other toxic pollution, and a host of other terrible policies.
One rider -- which would have effectively suspended the Endangered Species Act -- has already been defeated by an overwhelming bipartisan vote. Now we need to encourage our representatives to finish the job and stop what the New York Times called a broad assault on the nation's environmental laws, using "concealed weapons." You can take action here.