Monday, July 16, 2007

CAFE standards

H. Sterling Burnett produced one laugh riot of an editorial. He is a senior fellow and oil industry apologist at the National Center for Policy Analysis ( His editorial was republished in the Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington as an op-ed to that of Matthew R. Auer who is a professor of public and environmental affairs at Indiana University. I won't get into Professor Auer's "green talk" here, because Burnett is the clown more important to discuss.

Does CAFE shave off weight on cars that potentially reduces their capacity to protect their passengers? Yeah, if you are the auto industry mogul that wants to keep the engine driving it basically the same as it was first designed many moons ago. Just a few tweaks to the engine here and there, but no vast overhaul as to redesign that would improve fuel performance and provide the necessary power to haul heavy loads if put in a truck. Where as engine fuel economy performance is a fact in Japanese and European made cars. And Burnett did not choose to discuss that part of the car that puts it on the road in the first place. Redesign the engine that makes it more fuel efficient and oops, then we run up against the oil industry that would lose profits if that were to happen. So, the auto industry will make nice to the oil industry and be a cause of alarm to its customers. That is, if the auto industry is based in Detroit. And ends up losing market share to Japanese made vehicles. What Burnett seems to have forgotten, is that people already exercise a choice. Their choice isn't to always buy American if it means that they will pay a hundred dollars at the pump over a month's time. Instead, the American consumer will pay a hundred dollars at the pump over a 3 or 4 month's time by buying Japanese. Since the automakers in Detroit aren't delivering such cars, then the consumers will shop elsewhere. Without discussing green, those are the facts of the free market that Burnett just won't get into.

Which is why Ford, etc. are suffering now when it comes to loss of profits.

Next, would improved fuel efficiency cause people to drive more? Apparently tourists taking coast to coast trips in their cars is a bad thing. Again, without discussing green here, tourists who don't go broke at the pump a few hundred miles from home and hundreds of miles from their intended destinations, would seem to be a good thing. The less they have to spend on gas at today's prices, means they can spend their money going to: hotels, restaurants, camp grounds, amusement parks, visiting cities and small towns, etc. So, if we remove CAFE, is that an argument for penalizing tourism? And what about folks who drive to do their shopping, pick up the kids at school, go to work and etc.? Uh, well, are we also arguing that their normal driving habits should be penalized? Seems to me that oil industry apologist Burnett doesn't believe in the free market.

Finally, we have seen an increased traffic accident fatality statistics since the time that CAFE was introduced. Let us not factor in: the booze factor or careless driving habits. Road rage or driving faster than the posted speed limit. Refusing to engage in defensive driving and deciding that road conditions only applies to that other driver but not to me, mentality. Seems to me that the drivers are the cause for accidents and fatalities not what equipment they motor around in. Burnett is so much in the pocket of the oil industry that he doesn't bother recognizing the problems of individual people. Would heavier cars protect the driver who gets behind the wheel drunk? How about the car full of parents and young kids he crashes into? I remember as a kid, my family was traveling up north in Idaho to see the sights. Dad at the wheel as we stopped somewhere to eat? shop? before going home. A crazy woman driver backed all the way across the parking lot and slammed into the car that we were in. For a slow motion crash, it left quite a dent in that heavy car and the passengers were quite thoroughly rocked and rattled as the bitch hit us full tilt. Think about what could have happened if we were on the open road, the bitch rammed into us full tilt at far greater speeds? Surviving such an accident would have been just as questionable in the 1960s when CAFE was never heard of as it is today. The drivers are the reasons for the accidents and not the cars. Too bad Burnett's "op ed" wasn't prepared to take that into account. Thus the reasons for all the LOLs.

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