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Reporter Notebook: Keeping Score at SAE

Ward’s writers pass along the buzz at this week’s Society of Automotive Engineers annual conference in Detroit.

EPA Official Miffed by Partisan Scuffle

Looks like nerves still are on edge from the budget battle on Capitol Hill last week. Among other gambits, Republicans tried but failed to take away the Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions as a special "rider" on new budget legislation.

Margo Oge, director-Office of Transportation and Air Quality for EPA, seems a bit miffed when asked about the partisan scuffle from a member of the SAE audience. “I think it’s a provocative question. I don’t think it is a constructive question to be honest with you,” she says. But she answers anyway.

“My view is we’re safe,” Oge says, adding it is business as usual at the EPA and pointing out President Obama supports the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gasses. And she doesn’t blame the auto makers for the attempt to cut back the agency’s authority.

“There are a lot rumors that the car companies are behind the effort to take the authority away, but I do not believe that is the case,” Oge says. (Indeed auto maker's want one Federal authority, not a patchwork of individual state legislation).

“We’ve built up a tremendous relationship collaborating with the car companies, state agencies and environmental groups as well as the state of California. We expect to continue to do that.”

DOE Offers Olive Branch to OSU at SAE

Joining Adam Opel CEO Karl Stracke to announce winning participants in the EcoCAR 2 collegiate engineering competition, U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary and University of Michigan graduate David Sandalow offers a momentary olive branch to bitter athletic- and academic-rival Ohio State University.

"I'm going to clap for them even though I'm a Wolverine," he concedes.

As one of 16 schools awarded participation in the DOE-funded EcoCAR 2, Ohio State will receive a Chevy Malibu from General Motors to explore fuel-saving technologies.

On this day: OSU-1, U of M-0.

More Rivalries Muted

Moderating a panel discussion at the SAE World Congress here, FEV CEO Gary Rogers introduces Chrysler Vice President Bob Lee.

He mentions Lee earned an undergraduate engineering degree at Michigan State, an MBA from the University of Michigan and another advanced degree from Ohio State, all bitter rivals on the gridiron.

After citing Lee’s education, Rogers pauses and says: “Saturday football must be interesting at your house.”

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