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Aluminum industry can bridge political gap

Keywords: Tags  corporate average fuel economy, Carl Cannon, RealClearPolitics, aluminum, Keystone XL, Aluminum Association, Michael Cowden


ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. — The aluminum industry has a good story to tell to both Republicans and Democrats when it comes to meeting stricter fuel economy standards in the United States, according to one political journalist.

Former President George W. Bush pushed for tougher fuel economy regulations in 2009, although they were mild compared with those in place in Europe and Japan, said Carl Cannon, Washington editor for RealClearPolitics.com, and President Obama is looking to boost those standards to as much as 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

"There is no known technology that can make that happen except aluminum," Cannon said in a presentation at the Aluminum Association’s spring meeting in Isle of Palms. "Right now, you guys are the whole game. ... That’s a story you have been telling, and it’s worth telling again and again."

Unlike on many other issues, both Democrats and Republicans have "no reason not to really listen," he said.

The current political climate on Capitol Hill "inevitably" leads to gridlock, Cannon said, who blamed the divide in part on distrust between Republicans and Democrats who are beholden to their parties’ ideologues. In the past, conservative Democrats in the South bridged the gap between the two parties, generally allowing for palatable compromises, but without that "third party" the current environment is far more divisive, Cannon said.

Yet both Republicans and Democrats are suffering such low poll figures that each side—while still far apart on most issues—might be looking for some common ground. "Each side has a reason to deal. They are both, in public opinion, sort of teetering. And this is a moment, if they are looking at those polls, they have reason to get together," he said.

Cannon expects Obama to approve TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline proposal. "The President wants to get behind that. He wants to endorse it. I think some accommodation will be reached," he said. "The President was inclined to do it, to sign off on it. He got kind of bullied ... by his own wing."

The Keystone XL project has faced numerous setbacks, including the denial of a presidential permit last year (amm.com, Feb. 15, 2012).


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