Thursday, June 01, 2006

Call for Legislators to Require Greater Fuel Efficiency Standards for the US

The single best way to immediately begin to save the U.S. millions of barrels of oil each day is to significantly increase national fuel economy (CAFE) standards in automobiles. Yet most of the media and political hype over "kicking the oil habit" and Congressional policy change to achieve energy security seems to be constructed to divert attention from this single most important point. An excellent 2005 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists labeled this kind of deceptive hype the "Fuel Economy Fraud."

The high price of gasoline has recently spawned deceptive campaigns and news hype about "alternatives" to deliver future energy security to the nation. But any such "campaign" that does not make achieving dramatic improvements in overall fuel economy standards (to 40 mpg over the next decade) is shortsighted and dumb, at best, and an intentionally deceptive "alternative," at worst.

As the Union of Concerned Scientists pointed out over a month ago, the President's recent "call" for "Fuel Economy Reform" demonstrates how deceptive play with words is being substituted for real policy reform to achieve significant improvements in fuel economy standards for the nation.

April 28, 2006
President’s Call for Fuel Economy Reform Merits a Barrel of Skepticism

Statement by David Friedman, Research Director, Clean Vehicles Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

"After 9/11, two devastating hurricanes and record gasoline prices, we should expect real political leadership on fuel economy. Unfortunately, this just seems like an attempt to play pre-election politics with gasoline prices.

"Real leadership from the president and Congress would be to increase the fuel economy of all cars and light trucks to 40 miles per gallon over the next decade. This would be the equivalent of offering a $600 annual tax break from reduced fuel costs.

"Unfortunately, the president's plan would change the fuel economy system from having one standard for all cars to having lower standards for bigger vehicles, creating a loophole that will encourage manufacturers to produce bigger, less efficient cars. The drop in the bucket savings from the fuel economy increase would drain right through the loophole."

Meanwhile, even the usually progressive Center for American Progress has launched a "KicktheOilHabit" campaign that fails to emphasize the primary importance of demanding that Congress act to require greater fuel economy standards.

If citizens demand that both the media and politicians pay notice to the basic points about fuel economy standards clearly explained by the State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), perhaps we will finally begin to make some progress toward real (rather than the facade of) energy security, and toward real political leadership on energy policy.

For great clarification of what is at stake in debate over Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards,
see Fuel Economy Standards: Myth And Fact


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