U.S. light-vehicle sales were stronger than expected for the second straight month in February, providing 2012 with the best 2-month start for any year since 2008.

LV deliveries totaled an estimated 1.146 million in February. The volume equates to a daily selling rate of 45,846 units over the month’s 25 selling days, for an 11.2% gain on year-ago’s 41,245 with 24 selling days.

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Survey Finds Increasing Optimism About Economy

IndustryWeek (3/7, Minter) reports, “Nearly 60% of middle-market manufacturing and distribution executives are optimistic about the US economy, according to the latest quarterly survey from McGladrey & Pullen, a tax and consulting firm. That is a 146% increase from the fall 2011 survey.” It “found automotive and transportation executives more likely than others to be optimistic about their companies, and automotive and industrial machinery executives more likely than others to be optimistic about their industries.” IndustryWeek notes, “The increased optimism among manufacturing executives was tempered by several factors, including federal government gridlock, access to free trade agreements, the lack of a meaningful energy policy in the US and the uncertainty of regulations due to the impending election this fall.”

Appeals Court Appears Likely To Uphold Greenhouse Gas Rules

Bloomberg News (3/1, Schoenberg) reports, “The US Environmental Protection Agency’s limits on industrial emissions of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide are illegal and must be thrown out, opponents told federal judges in Washington. A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals today considered challenges to the agency’s rules determining which polluters are covered and when states and industries must comply with regulations curtailing the use of greenhouse gases. ‘The agency crossed the line from statutory interpretation to statutory revision,’ Peter Keisler, a lawyer for the National Association of Manufacturers, told the judges.” Keisler said the agency violated the law when it raised emissions thresholds far above what Congress required.

The Wall Street Journal (3/1, Kendall, Subscription Publication) reports the judges indicated that industry challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules face high legal hurdles, thus setting the stage for the rules to go into effect for the 2012 model year.

Reuters (3/1, Volcovici) also covers the story.

Manufacturing Sector Offers Job-Saving Solution In Challenge To EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulations. In a press release, the National Association of Manufacturers (3/1) President and CEO Jay Timmons said, “The EPA’s decision to move forward with the regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources is one of the most costly, complex and far-reaching regulatory issues facing manufacturers and harms their ability to compete globally.” Timmons said, “In an effort to reverse this harmful course and save desperately needed jobs, we presented the Court with a path forward to uphold the EPA’s role based on congressional intent and protect the vast majority of stationary sources from these onerous regulations.” Timmons added, “Policies to address climate change deserve full debate in the US Congress and should foster economic growth, not impose additional burdens on businesses.”

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