White House Proposing New Fuel Efficiency Standards

October 1st, 2010 at 3:44 pm | 7 Comments |

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The Hill reports:

The Obama administration is proposing to raise federal fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks to at least 47 miles per gallon and to as much as 62 mpg by 2025.

The proposal, which is still in its early stages, could end up being a consolation prize for environmental activists who are still smarting over the collapse of a comprehensive climate bill in Congress.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are filing a notice Friday indicating they will issue a joint proposed rule next year that will require an increase in fuel efficiency anywhere in that range starting with 2017 vehicle models.

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • Watusie

    Lets hop in the way-back machine.

    The Arab oil embargo demonstrated that our nation was dangerously dependent upon oil imports, and that increases in gas prices could do great harm to our nation’s economy. And so President Jimmy Carter implemented CAFE standards. Starting in 1979, we went from 18 miles per gallon to 27.5 miles per gallon in six years., causing oil imports from OPEC to fall by more than 80%.

    Along comes Ronald Reagan. Big oil convinces him that gas prices are – get this – too low. So Reagan rolled back the CAFE standards, much to the delight of OPEC, who within a year doubled the amount of their exports to the United States.

    Yet the Republican Congress in 1995 made it illegal for the EPA to even to study higher CAFE standards, and conservatives bought and paid for by Big Oil have been blocking reconsideration of the entire subject ever since.

    Look: I’m well aware of the concept of diminishing returns. Nevertheless, if, in the first years of CAFE standards, we were were able to go from 18 mpg to 27 mpg, imagine where we could be today if in the 25 intervening years the standards had not been frozen.

  • sinz54

    Watusie: Starting in 1979, we went from 18 miles per gallon to 27.5 miles per gallon in six years, causing oil imports from OPEC to fall by more than 80%. Reagan rolled back the CAFE standards, much to the delight of OPEC, who within a year doubled the amount of their exports to the United States.
    Uh, no.

    The reason why gasoline consumption had declined dramatically under Carter was that he had RATIONED gasoline, and because he had plunged the nation into a recession. I couldn’t get gasoline for my car without waiting in line at a gas station for hours. And when I finally did get up to the head of the line, I only got enough to fill my tank partway. Meanwhile, Americans in New England were shivering in unheated homes, unable to afford their home heating bills. So of course the U.S. was consuming less oil. The U.S. economy was in a shambles. (Were you an adult driver back then? Were you an adult back then?)

    Under Reagan, the economy boomed, rationing came to an end–and gasoline consumption increased, exactly what happened after World War II when that wartime rationing ended too.

    After the original Congressional mandate of 27.5 mpg took effect in 1985, the Reagan Administration rolled the standard back to 26 mpg in 1986–a drop of just 5%. In 1989, Bush 41 restored the standard back to the 1985 level of 27.5 mpg. There was no improvement in the CAFE standards under the Clinton Administration.

    President Clinton also abandoned the hated 55 mph speed limit, in the face of dark warnings from Ralph Nader and the usual suspects. That law was just universally hated, universally flouted (I never obeyed it)–and as Clinton recognized, it did a lot to discredit progressivism in the United States.

    What has caused a big increase in gasoline consumption has been the huge rise in sales of pickup trucks and SUVs, which were always exempt from CAFE standards.

    I live in MA (a heavily Democratic state), where I see lots of young single women (no kids) driving their Ford Explorers to the supermarket to pick up a container of milk.

    Unlike you, Watusie, I don’t have to imagine a “Wayback Machine” in order to experience the 1970s. I lived through that era as an adult. (I graduated from college in 1975.)

  • sinz54

    Watusie:

    Here’s another adventure from your “Wayback Machine”:

    The bizarro state-by-state fuel allocation regulations during the Carter Administration resulted in highly unequal allocation of fuel. We in the urbanized Northeast couldn’t get enough fuel. We suffered through gas lines and unheated homes. While farmers in farm states had more fuel than they could use (gee, what a surprise).

    This and other Carter messes resulted in a revolt by the left-wing of his party. MA senator Ted Kennedy broke with Carter, and actually ran against him in the 1980 Dem primaries and tried to take the nomination away from him. He failed. But that feud was never resolved; just a couple of weeks ago, Carter reopened that old wound all over again.

    I’ll bet your left-wing teachers and professors flushed that history down the memory hole as well.

  • Carney

    Fuel economy is irrelevant in the big picture.

    Fuel consumption rises so fast increased fuel economy can’t keep up. We went up from an average of 13 mpg in 1976 to 20 in 1990, but despite being able to go the same distance on much less gas our gasoline usage went UP from 89 to 103 billion gallons a year. With China and India becoming car countries, fuel demand will continue to skyrocket – China is now an oil market as big as the US, out of nowhere just a few years ago.

    Even if somehow you could reduce fuel consumption it still wouldn’t matter. OPEC can just cut production to match, raise the per-unit price, and make just as much as before on reduced sales volume. OPEC’s share of world oil reserves is 78% and rising (since they go through their reserves at a lower rate than the non-OPEC world).

    Instead of trying to reduce fuel consumption, a much for achievable and effective goal is to switch fuels. Any non-petroleum fuel breaks the oil cartel monopoly on transportation fuel, and does not fund terror. Alcohol fuel (methanol, ethanol, etc.) is the most practical, because it can be used interchangeably (and mixed) with gasoline in fully flex fueled cars. Since it costs automakers only about $130 per car to add this capability, we should just require it to be a standard feature, like seat belts.

    Much less backlash, expense, and futility than trying to push CAFE through the roof.

  • Watusie

    LOL, welcome to bizarro world, where Carter did the wrong thing by instituting CAFE standards and Reagan did the right thing by reducing them.

  • TerryF98

    “LOL, welcome to bizarro world, where Carter did the wrong thing by instituting CAFE standards and Reagan did the right thing by reducing them.”

    That’s Sinzworld for you, a bit like Waynes World but much uglier,darker and far more dangerous.

  • Carney

    Actually, Watusie, while Carter’s policy of forced gasoline austerity was an inevitable failure, another energy policy he instituted was a success, and points the way forward. Thanks to a law he championed, we went from being around one-fourth / one-fifth dependent on oil-burning power plants for our electricity, to around 3%-less than 1%, depending on when and how you count. But overall electricity consumption went way up. How was this possible? Because the slack from leaving oil, and the growth in demand, was taken up and met by other sources, including nuclear power. In other words, while energy conservation doesn’t work, energy substitution does.