Thursday, February 19, 2004

More Jobs to the Gallon

In an op-ed piece that appeared in yesterday's NYT, the Sierra Club and the United Auto Workersopposed the proposed modifications in CAFE standards. They fear that:

The Bush administration is proposing to scrap these standards for a new system that would establish a series of vehicle weight categories, with a separate standard for each category. Basically, heavier vehicles would have lower fuel standards. Since they would no longer need to meet a fleetwide average, automakers would be free to add weight to all of their vehicles to make them qualify for heavier weight categories.
The result would be a reduction in overall fuel economy and an increase in pollution. America's dependence on foreign oil would increase, and our environment would suffer.
The shift to a weight-based system could also jeopardize the jobs of thousands of Americans who work, either directly or indirectly, on the production of small cars.

I think that the Seirra Club and the UAW have missed the point. While it is true that a weight based system may provide incentives to increase weight of smaller trucks, it is intended to produce a reduction in the weight of the heaviest of the vehicles. Remember that the savings in fuel are higher when you move from 13 to 14 m.p.g than when you move from 16 to 17. m.p.g. Secondly, the new format will only be applicable to the light-trucks and not the cars. NHTSA does not have the statutory authority to do anything with the cars segment (although they would love to do something there). They are trying to do what they can within their limits. I think that the criticism leveled on them is unfair.


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