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Detroit Needs Drilling, Not Bailouts By: Steven Milloy
Fox News | Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Looking for the root of the impending car industry debacle? Look no further than the failure of the Big Three and the United Auto Workers to challenge the Green attack on cheap gasoline.

Since the 1980s, the golden goose of the U.S. auto industry has been SUV and light truck sales. Those vehicles were so popular and so profitable that the Big Three could afford to meet UAW demands for high wages and generous benefits. The golden goose even enabled the Big Three to afford the infamous UAW Jobs Bank where thousands of laid-off auto workers were kept on the payroll for years, costing the automakers billions of dollars.

But for decades, the Big Three and the UAW overlooked the linchpin of all these “good times” -- the cheap gasoline that fueled SUV sales. For some strange reason, neither the companies nor the UAW had the foresight or courage to challenge the Green chokehold on our gasoline supply.

While the Greens blocked oil drilling offshore and on public lands, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Big Three and the UAW looked the other way. When the Greens worked to block the expansion of gasoline refineries through both direct opposition to plant expansion and through stringent EPA regulation that made refinery expansion expensive and unprofitable, the car industry snoozed. Only Ford CEO Wiliam Clay Ford Jr. was active on the Green issue -- but not in a helpful way. He advocated higher gas taxes to incentivize the public away from buying SUVs.

It wasn’t until September 2008 that the CEO of General Motors finally got around to calling for increased offshore oil drilling -- almost 20 years after the offshore drilling moratorium began. The UAW has yet to make the connection between cheap gas and its members’ jobs.

But let’s not give GM too much credit yet. In a full-page advertisement in the New York Times this week, entitled “There’s a belief that GM is not doing enough,” GM boasts that, “We have aggressively addressed our North American manufacturing footprint, shifting our production from trucks and SUVs to smaller cars and crossover vehicles.” What?

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Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and DemandDebate.com. He is a junk science expert, advocate of free enterprise and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.


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