In an attempt to mitigate what could well become a rather acrimonious series of discussions on the upcoming air-quality legislation, members of both sides of the agenda met under the aegis of the Aspen Institute's Energy and Environment Program. Participants in this unique gathering included representatives from the California Air Resources Board, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists as well as from Ford, General Motors, Honda, and Toyota.
The Aspen Institute, a non-partisan organization dedicated to encouraging productive understanding of critical issues such as the environment, released a brief and none-too-revealing statement on this gathering, noting only that: "The discussions explored ways to achieve national and state goals for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy improvements. The parties succeeded in developing an enhanced understanding of each others' perspectives and concerns. The participants anticipate that these discussions can inform future regulatory deliberations. To encourage a candid exchange of ideas and open communications, the participants agreed to treat the specific topics discussed as confidential."
Whether the state of California (and the 16 other states that would also adopt its rules) ultimately prevails in its attempt to secure a waiver allowing for more stringent greenhouse-gas-emissions requirements than those mandated by the federal government remains to be seen. So too does the hoped-for possibility of reaching a single-spec compromise on the matter. But for the moment, it does appear that all parties concerned are at least willing to take a more proactive approach to reaching an agreement that would be both beneficial and cost-effective to the greatest number of individuals.