Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fuel efficiency boom's a bust

The House votes today to "dramatically" improve the fuel-efficiency of U.S. cars.

This legislation promises that by 2020 U.S. auto fleets must achieve an average of 35 miles per gallon. It also stipulates that electric industries will get 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2020, and strips $21 billion of oil industry tax breaks.

Sounds good, so why the dramatic in quotation marks? The legislation only sets the end-time deadline, so Detroit automakers could stall for another 12 years and improve fuel efficiency in 2020. Also, the time lapse between the bill being signed and the standards being enacted allows auto and energy companies to appeal the standards, apply for waivers, and basically shirk the standards altogether.

Why not enact something that begins raising fuel standards incrementally in 2008? Your guess is as good as mine, but as a national commentator wrote Tuesday: politicians like to claim huge success without actually achieving anything.

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