There's a lot of political heat right now over American air and water. One battle may mean a lot for some old-fashioned, low-tech companies. The second could be crucial to the hybrid and electric automobile in the short-term.
The car industry from Detroit to Silicon Valley is watching the step taken today by the State of California which is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Silicon Valley could see the California state law give a huge boost to investment and research on electric and other low-emission cars.
California claims the EPA is really the Environmental Procrastination Agency. In 2005 California passed a law calling for lower vehicle emissions in 2009 models. They need an EPA-approved waiver to have tougher state standards than the feds. The EPA sat on the request. Afraid to defy the will of a California governor in the country's largest state, the Procrastination Agency just did nothing. Of course, the auto industry, both American and foreign-owned, opposes the California law.
By the week's end a number of other states including New York are expected to join this suit against the EPA.
A decidedly low-tech battle was concluded today over America's waterways. Congress over-rode a veto by President George W. Bush for the first time. The law authorizes billions and millions in water-related projects, many to be done by the beloved U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Post-Katrina levee work. Lots of levee work in California, locks and dams along the Mississippi River, etc. Course, this is mostly symbolic. The authorized projects are not given any money, yet. That awaits another set of appropriation battles in Congress. So this may look like a big step but it's mostly inside-the-Beltway messaging from Congress to the lame duck White House. Don't rexpect this to lead to any serious investment in water recycling or other high tech research related to our dwindling water supply or national water security or whatever politically correct moniker the K Street dudes would approve.
There is some good news in the ever-dryer world of the southeastern U.S. Some federal money is going to bring water to a town in Tennessee that has plumb run dry.