The President famously said in his State of the Union address that the United States is “addicted to oil.” We couldn’t agree more. Today, his administration issued its treatment plan: abuse oil a tiny bit more slowly, eventually, as the New York Times reports.
The “treatment plan” I’m refering to is the US Department of Transportation’s new CAFE standards for light trucks. The department heralded the new standards as the largest boost in efficiency in decades, which is true—because the standards have been stagnant for decades.
So an 11 percent increase over the next five years, is something. It’s more than lipstick on a pig.
But how much more?
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The plan covers somewhat larger SUVs than before, which is good, but it still excludes the largest SUVs, such as the Hummer H1. It bases the fuel-economy standard on vehicles’ footprint, which is also good. But the plan ignores new technologies sweeping the market that make an 11 percent increase an extremely low bar. Light trucks might well improve by more than that anyway, thanks to high fuel prices and the popularity of hybrid-electric drives.
In a time of soaring oil prices, national insecurity by the barrel, worsening hurricanes and other signs of climate change, I had hoped for better.
The new standards are certainly more than lipstick on a pig. They’re lipstick and an evening gown.
(A real treatment plan starts with feebates.)