The Detroit News reports that Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr. has asked President Bush to convene a summit to discuss the nation’s energy issues and the auto industry’s role in finding a solution.
Ford told Bush in a letter requesting the summit that the company would continue to “work proactively” with the administration to set new fuel economy standards through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Ford may be the first automaker to break ranks—even superficially—with the auto industry’s united front against increases in fuel economy regulations.
Prior to 2001, the auto industry lobbied successfully for six years to prevent the U.S. Department of Transportation from even studying an increase in fuel economy standards.
Now, with rising gas prices, a growing public awareness of oil imports coming from the Middle East, and gasoline supply issues in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the nation is facing an urgent need to do more, said Ziad Ojakli, Ford's group vice president of corporate affairs.
[...] White House spokesman Allen Abney said the Bush administration had not yet reviewed the letter and couldn’t offer any specific response to the call for a energy summit.
[...] But not everyone is optimistic about the chances of success of such an energy summit. David Friedman, research director of clean vehicles for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, said Vice President Dick Cheney worked with a similar-sounding task force four years ago that ended up downplaying conservation in the national energy policy.
“This is more of the Bill Ford that we expected to see and have been hoping to see,” Friedman said. “But you’ve got to take some concrete steps, too.”
(A hat-tip to Jack Rosebro!)