Just say no to new CAFE standards

PUBLISHED in the Boulder Daily Camera (8/1/07) http://www.dailycamera.com/news/2007/aug/01/no-headline---01elet/ re " Mileage standards falter" (Boulder Daily Camera editorial reprint from Washington Post, 7/30/07) http://dailycamera.com/news/2007/jul/30/mileage-standards-falter/ Contrary to your editorial of July 30th, it is clearly not “vitally important” that Congress pass CAFE legislation increasing required fuel efficiency of vehicles. First, auto emissions represent only about 20% of the total anthropogenic (caused by people) greenhouse gas emissions. Second, anthropogenic sources of CO2 represent about 5% of total CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, with over 95% being from natural sources. So, even if you increased automobile fuel efficiency by 20% worldwide, you could be decreasing total atmospheric CO2 emissions by only about 0.2%. Even that number is wildly optimistic, however, because the real growth in greenhouse gas production is coming from China (which surpassed the US in emissions this year) and India. So, the US’s 25% total of world emissions is dropping, but even if you assume that it stays at that share and assuming that developing nations will do nothing to regulate their vehicle emissions, stringent new CAFE standards will at most lower global CO2 emissions by .05%. Any potential benefits from changes in atmospheric CO2 which higher fuel efficiency might bring are minuscule when compared to the cost of these standards in terms of massively higher price for cars or reduced safety of cars or both. Higher CAFÉ standards are being pushed by people who simply haven’t done the math and want to be able to say or feel as if they’ve “done something for the environment” when all they’re really doing is sticking it to the American consumer.
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