Friday, June 22, 2007

Ohio's Senators Split Vote on Energy Bill

Ohio's two United States Senators split on the energy bill passed on Thursday, June 21, 2007, by the United States Senate. Senator Sherrod Brown voted "Yea" while Senator George Voinovich voted "Nay." The bill raises corporate average fleet mileage requirements on vehicles sold in the United States.

As this Washington Post article makes clear, the United States is behind Europe, Japan and even China in setting mileage requirements for vehicles. This is a quote from the Post article:

The United States, with current efficiency standards of 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and 22.2 per gallon for SUVs and small trucks, has lagged behind the rest of the developed world. In the European Union, automakers have agreed to voluntary increases in fuel-economy standards that next year will lift the average to 44.2 miles per gallon, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. In Japan, average vehicle fuel economy tops 45 miles per gallon. China's level is in the mid-30s and projected to rise, propelled by government policy.

This is not a politically easy vote for Ohio's two United States Senators. Ohio has lost a lot of auto industry jobs over the last two decades. The United Auto Workers are an important ally of the Ohio Democratic Party and have supported Senator Brown in past elections, including the 2006 election. If political courage is defined as acting and voting for measures that either opposed by or not supported by political allies, then Senator Brown displayed political courage by his vote yesterday. Senator Voinovich? Not so much.

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