Thursday: Obama to Set Stricter Fuel Standards; Hu to Attend Summit

BY jbreslow  April 1, 2010 at 9:13 AM EST

A day after angering many environmental groups by announcing plans to expand offshore drilling, the Obama administration will look to win back their support on Thursday with tough new fuel efficiency standards for vehicles.

The rules will require cars and light trucks to get 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg higher than current mileage standards. In a speech Wednesday at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, President Barack Obama said the standards, which cover model years 2012 to 2016, would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil. “That’s like taking 58 million cars off the road for an entire year,” he said.


Administration Not Satisfied With Executive Pay

Although CEOs saw their pay decline for a second straight year in 2009, the drop may not be enough to satisfy the Obama administration. The 0.9 percent dip brought the median value of total compensation for bosses at 200 firms to $6.95 million and was the first time in 20 years that executive pay fell in back-to-back years, according to a Wall Street Journal survey.

Instead of rewarding executives primarily through stock and stock options, the Washington Post reports, some firms are increasingly shifting larger chunks of compensation to cash. The CEO of American Express, for example, saw his total pay drop in 2009 from the year before, but his cash payout rose from $11 million from $7 million, the Post notes.

While executives may point to their slimmer paychecks as proof that they understand public outrage over big pay packages, the Washington Post’s Tomoeh Murakami Tse writes, “It is becoming clear that companies across a wide range of industries are paying executives in ways that officials worry will not discourage the kind of excessive short-term risk-taking that led to the financial crisis.”

China’s President to Attend Nuclear Summit

Despite a recent strain in relations, President Hu Jintao of China will attend a nuclear security summit hosted by President Obama in Washington this month after all. According to the New York Times, “Until the announcement on Thursday by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, American officials feared that Mr. Hu would boycott the talks to express China’s displeasure over a series of recent diplomatic clashes, including a White House decision to sell arms to Taiwan and President Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader.”

New England Cleans Up After Record Flooding

With heavy rains finally ending, officials across Northern New England are surveying the damage left by some of the worst flooding the region has seen in 200 years. Homes and cars have been damaged, a stretch of Interstate 95 was closed in Rhode Island and a federal disaster area has been declared.

“The rain has stopped, but this event isn’t over by a long shot,” Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency told the Boston Globe. “More and more rivers are rising. It may not be until the beginning of next week when they return to below-flood levels. They have a way to go.”

Doing a Web Search? Just ‘Topeka’ It

Continuing its lengthy tradition of April Fools pranks, Google announced it is changing its name to Topeka. “We didn’t reach this decision lightly,” the search giant said, “But the more we surfed around (the former) Topeka’s municipal website, the more kinship we felt with this fine city at the edge of the Great Plains.”