Tuesday, May 19, 2009

About time

Read the good news:
The Obama administration today plans to propose tough standards for tailpipe emissions from new automobiles, establishing the first nationwide regulation for greenhouse gases.

It will also raise fuel efficiency targets to 35.5 miles per gallon for new passenger vehicles and light trucks by 2016, four years earlier than required under the 2007 energy bill, sources close to the administration said.

The measures are significant steps forward for the administration's energy agenda by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to climate change and by easing U.S. dependence on oil, most of which is imported.

As Jim notes, "Oil will only be cheap when we can't afford it." This will go a long way in helping the country prepare for when the economy becomes upright and oil starts its inevitable upward spiral. Perhaps, just perhaps, we'll be a bit more ready.

I find it interesting that the auto companies have given up the fight against the fleet-wide standards; I guess that coming to D.C. with cap in hand and a change in management was just the thing needed to break the logjam.

1 comment:

Jim Thill said...

I have my doubts about all this.

First, the news media has seized on the inane claim that this will raise the price of a car by $1300 by 2016. 2016? I thought our car manufacturers were in danger of collapsing now in 2009! With the apparently unpredictable volatility of energy prices, I can't put much faith in any projections like this. To predict what will happen to car prices by 2016 seems like an exercise in futility.

I heard an expert on MPR this morning suggesting that CAFE regulations that mandate an average of 35 mpg will actually result in a fleet average of something like 26 mpg. This has something to do with the difference between how CAFE fuel economy and EPA (actual) fuel economy are computed/measured. I guess it's still an improvement, but the news reports are misleading.

I also heard that "the auto industry" supports this legislation, supposedly because it makes fuel efficiency standards more universal (instead of state by state). Color me skeptical that there's not some other incentive in play.