It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
--Macbeth, Act V, Scene V
Okay, we’re not calling the Bush Administration idiots, but the “sound and fury” line sure applies here.
Hybrid technology is an important part of the fuel economy landscape, but when it comes to near-term efforts to reduce America’s oil dependence, the 800 lb. gorilla in the room is using existing technologies to increase the fuel economy of the conventional gasoline vehicle fleet. That’s why it’s so important for vehicle enthusiasts of all stripes to know about yesterday’s release of the Bush Administration’s highly disappointing final rule on revising Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for so-called “light trucks.”
Here are some highlights from the UCS reaction:
“After the Bush administration acknowledged our oil addiction, one might have expected a slam dunk, but this is an air ball,” said David Friedman, research director for the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The administration squandered an important opportunity to treat our oil addiction.”
The NHTSA standards would require SUVs, pickups and minivans (so-called light trucks) to increase their fuel economy by 1.8 mpg by 2011 (i.e. to 24.0 mpg in 2011), beginning with model year 2008. This is essentially a repackaged version of their August fuel economy proposal. The administration could have saved one million barrels of oil per day in 2025 if it had simply raised the new standards to 26 mpg by 2011 and applied the standards to all light trucks. This would have met 20 percent of the president’s target of cutting oil imports from the Middle East by 75 percent by 2025.
The rule also included heavier SUVs and vans (medium duty passenger vehicles - MDPV) for the first time but ignored heavier pickups. If they had included heavier pickups like the Ford F-350 and Chevrolet Silverado 3500, NHTSA could have saved four times as much as they did from including MDPVs.
“Fighting America’s oil addiction with these standards is like fighting lung cancer by smoking 49 cigarettes a day instead of 50,” said Don MacKenzie, vehicles engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Automakers have technology on their shelves right now that could cost-effectively improve the efficiency of light trucks to 26 or 27 mpg, at least double the increase that NHTSA announced today.”
You can read our full statement here.
Through the UCS “Extreme Auto Makeover” campaign, and other alerts from our colleague organizations, over 100,000 Americans took the time out to weigh in on the administration’s proposed rule and ask for real improvements that would have genuinely addressed America’s “oil addiction” problem to which the President himself admitted. The result: even with the projected steep and sustained increase in oil prices from the Energy Information Administration, NHTSA found a way to tweak their own assumptions in order to keep the final rule an almost exact carbon copy of their flawed proposal.
Of course, the administration is pushing this squandered opportunity as an historic achievement. It is vital that Congress realizes that the public is not buying the President’s spin, and understands the depth of disappointment Americans have for this side-stepping of responsibility at such a crucial time. The expectation for Congress must now be clear—step up and fill the oil security void left by the administration’s rule, or be complicit with Bush’s tough talk--no action approach. If you want to vent your spleen to your Senators and Representative, click here to send them a letter.
Posted by: ScottN