By on May 18, 2009

Politics is the art of the possible. In other words, it’s the art of manipulating expectations. In other other words, Barack Obama didn’t achieve the highest office in the land by doing things. He became president by promising to do things. And now that he’s actually got to do stuff, Obama must resort to the politician’s best weapon in their endless fight to reconcile expectations and reality (i.e., special interests): loopholes. Those exquisite exceptions that allow those supposedly affected by a piece of legislation to avoid the law’s intent—to the point where you wonder why anyone bothered to write it in the first place. The answer to that question is obvious: so that the politicians who crafted the law could be seen to be doing something that meets with public approval. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new CAFE standards.

Let me cut to the chase: the feds could mandate a 100 mpg fleet-wide corporate average fleet economy (CAFE) standard and the carmakers would meet it. All they’d have to do is do whatever they have to do to not do it while appearing like they’ve either done it or gave it a damn good try, then pay the damn fine (if necessary), pass on the cost to their consumers and get on with it. Again.

Which means that today’s pre-announcement announcement that the federal government will eventually adopt California’s CAFE standards—42 mpg for cars, 26.2 mpg for trucks by 2016—is meaningless. You know, in the real world. In the political sphere, it will be a major victory for environmentalists, supporters of the president, Chrysler and GM.

Yes, there is that. The president will soon have new CAFE standards AND control of two car companies that can build the vehicles that conform to those standards. I mean, they’ll have to do that, right? Otherwise, a taxpayer-funded automaker may have to pay a large penalty to the taxpayers, using taxpayer’s money, for failing to meet a standard set by the government who owns them (the carmakers, not the taxpayers).

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one of those people who worries that Chrysler and GM will be forced to build Nancy Pelosi-mobiles. I’m one of those who knows it.

Ah ha! But you just said the automakers won’t meet the standards! They’ll only pretend to. Yes, and to pretend to do it, they’ll build the Volt, an electric minivan or suchlike and act like they’re building the vehicles that will right the sunked ship, meet or exceed all federal regulations, save the planet and reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Meanwhile, they’ll sell other things.

Or not. I mean, what difference does it make? Both car companies are practically 501c3 non-profit charities as it is. Any business that owes its existence to subsidies, noblesse oblige and tax credits is not going to spend too much time worrying about little things like return on investment and long-term profitability. Why should they?

Sorry. I got distracted. The meat of the matter: the new CAFE standards go hand-in-glove with the $100 billion or so doled out (literally) to Chrysler and GM; a “fresh start” for a “clean future” with “green jobs” using “American ingenuity” and “innovative technology.”

It wasn’t planned that way. It just happened. Like I said, it’s the art of the possible: drawing from the temper of the times, tapping into a farrago of common hopes, creating a palatable policy platform for those who need to stay on message. And for those who need to build cars? “Flexibility.” Automotive News [sub]:

The proposal to run from 2012-2016 would maintain a single national standard for fuel economy and give automakers flexibility for meeting it, people with knowledge of the plan said.

The same would apply to anyone with knowledge of any government plan. This is not pure cynicism. This is cynicism based on historical precedent. Lest we forget, the last SUV boom was fueled by CAFE standards that allowed Chrysler to classify the PT Cruiser as a truck.

There is no reason to believe that the new CAFE regs will be any more stringently applied than existing laws, or if they are, that manufacturers will be any less likely to game the system to allow them to build the more profitable vehicles that people want to buy.

That said, again, this time ’round we’ll have two automobile manufacturers who will no longer care [that much] about building the vehicles that people want to buy. So they might NOT cheat. Which will screw it up for everyone else, Ford included.

Either that or they’ll force all automakers to build more fuel-efficient vehicles that will save the planet and reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Oh, and be just as safe as current cars and trucks. After all, there are no limits to human ingenuity.

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81 Comments on “Editorial: President Obama Joins America’s CAFE Society...”


  • avatar
    GS650G

    I know someone that always believes things work out eventually, that in the end “they” know what they are doing and won’t let everyone down.

    I don’t have that optimism about what kind of cars we will be driving simply because government is going to dictate what is permitted and not bother to care what the people think. They already think we are stupid and gullible ( and recent events tend to prove it) so why bother with consumer choice.

    CAFE standards go against the grain of what consumers want, everyone knows that, for if 100 mpg boxes were popular we would not have F-150 sales as high as they are.

    But the way to make the econobox popular is to raise fuel prices. Instead of the market setting the price of energy, governments love to tinker with energy prices to control behavior. It’s irresistible. How can people be free to use energy without government intervention and profiting from it?

    The usual excuses are road building and repair, now it’s environmental causes that need funding. And the taxes they will impose are supposed to do both.

    Your freedom to move about is going to be limited to human powered vehicles, at least for now. All the wonderful machines man has devised to transport us will have government exacting a toll.

    I wonder if horses are an option any longer?

  • avatar

    They’ll do this AND raise gas taxes.

  • avatar

    Does California have fewer loopholes than the national CAFE standard? And which set of loopholes is going to prevail?

  • avatar
    Albnyc

    California: a state more dysfunctional and destitute than America as a whole. Good example to follow, yesiree.

  • avatar
    geeber

    So CAFE is like the 55 mph speed limit – people only tolerate it when it isn’t really enforced.

  • avatar
    bluecon

    It is going to take years for the US economy to recover from all this spending and meddling in the markets and industry. The stock market is setting up for another crash and they are worried about CO2?

    And meanwhile Car Czar Rattner is building a $15 million, 15,400 sq ft Summer home. There appears to be one set of rules for the peasants and another for the politicians.

  • avatar
    faygo

    with reduced performance expectations – as are the norm in europe for non-premium vehicles – and wider acceptance of diesels & small gas engines, 42mpg isn’t that hard to imagine, even without a big salary-cap math effect for HEV/BEV/E85/etc credits. for every 25mpg D-sized car you sell, you sell a 60mpg Civic/Cruze/Focus/Corolla diesel.

    the trick will be getting people to spend the extra for the cost of the diesel on the slower 60mpg Cruze and tolerate a 35mpg 170hp Camry/Fusion/Malibu rather than a 25mpg 250-275hp one which is not even considered a “sport” model currently.

  • avatar

    Great Article. I’m printing this one off as a “TTAC told you so” for my “I cant wait to buy a new Volt” co-workers.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    The PT Cruiser was just a start, if 42 MPG passenger car standards become a reality everything is going to be a “light truck”.

    Here are the NHTSA requirements for something to be a “light truck”. It either has to be able to have a flat floor behind the front seats (sweet for carrying stuff), any size cargo bed (also sweet, get ready for the return of the El-Camino-Ranchero-Caballero-Caddy-RamPandapage), or certain off road attributes.

  • avatar
    shaker

    “They’ll do this AND raise gas taxes.”

    Yep, gitcha coming and going.

    Or not going anywhere, at least using “liquid juice”.

    I (for one) will welcome my new electric vehicle overlords, so all this “Petro Fear” (quite possibly created for this very reason) becomes tantamount to “meh”.

    All the “Hot Rod” magazines will have battery and controller upgrades, just like the RC stuff has now.

    It will be just as much fun, just different.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Where are we going to get all the electricity to recharge all these electric cars? Our grid is already strained, and the use of coal or nuclear for energy generation will be verboten by the envirionmental wackos who are now in Washington.

    Oh yeah – sunshine and lollipops will create cheap energy out of thin air.

    It’s all part of the plan to raise energy prices with the goal of dependency on the government (since no industry will be left in the United States), and to dramatically change our way of life to one that fits their elitist viewpoint.

    Well, maybe it is not a conspiracy, and they are really just that stupid.

  • avatar
    gmbuoy

    Just wait until the $2.00 a gallon, reduce-dependence-on-foreign-oil, tax kicks in. At 2 Trillion a year it should only take till President Obama’s last year in office to pay for the TARP, Stimulus Plans and the Iraq War. Just remember this could not have not have been brought to you without the Made-In-New-York-City-World-Wide-Financial-Implosion

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Politics may be an art, but it is also a game. I respectfully submit that the game is probably being missed here.

    The higher CAFE standards are likely more about talking points than anything else. They’ll ultimately not be met, and nothing will come of the failure to meet them. Like the old standards, there will be enough loopholes to render them moot, and paying a fine that is implicitly passed onto the customer will cover those who fail.

    Reading between the lines, I will stick my neck out and say that the standards will be a prelude to some sort of federal subsidy program that will be made available to any company that builds cars in the US. After all, changes will need to be made in order to meet the standards, and that will require R&D, which we will support.

    This would have all the stuff that one could hope for. High-tech jobs. High paying jobs. Shovel ready projects. Research centers. Independence from foreign oil. Mother Earth. Add a few more, while you’re at it.

    There will be no massive hike in the gas tax. We wouldn’t spend so much time fussing over CAFE if there was any chance of that happening. The whole point of CAFE is to avoid a high fuel tax, which any economist would tell you is the most straightforward efficient way to get consumers to change their habits. Consumers vote, too, so no CAFE for you.

  • avatar
    tedward

    GS650G
    “I wonder if horses are an option any longer?”

    We could watch road rage tailgating become a thing of the past.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Someone a short while ago asked me to stop “politicizing” automobiles. I told him regardless what I say- the job of politicizing automobiles has been done, and done well, by our elected officials.

    Here my friends is the real motive, the way I see it, for high fuel economy: Once each and every(!!) person has been neutered and/or emasculated into driving Chevy Metro’s and the like, then that is it…you have FINALLY reached a control over the automotive population. Once THAT is complete- THEN you can ratchet fuel prices to the $8/gallon levels you see in Europe.

    Right now, while I’m no fan of wasteful trucks, etc…you have to admit- when several 10′s of millions of people drive them, they are a force to be reckoned with! And for that reason alone I appreciate trucks. They keep a check on the levels of political manipulation that can occur. The prices we saw last summer- while bad- they did NOT LAST!! The political pressure was too great to keep them at those levels.

    Now think of what it will be like when EVERYONE drives tiny shitboxes. When EVERYONE drives them, THEN those outrageous fuel prices are PERMANENT. Just look to the EU as a shining example of what they wish to implement here.

    BTW, have you seen The Obama Deception?

    http://www.obamadeception.net/

    Please do so- while it is still online for free viewing. It won’t last so please watch it while you can- it will be censored.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7886780711843120756&ei=Gs0RSvXLM4r-qAPuv7HJDA&q=the+obama+deception

    Over 6000 5-star ratings, even though it was rushed to market to meet the Obama 100 Day’s in Office “Camelot”.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    I think until politics stop interfering with vehicles, it’s fair game to discuss it here.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    for every 25mpg D-sized car you sell, you sell a 60mpg Civic/Cruze/Focus/Corolla diesel.

    CAFE is computed using a harmonic mean, not an arithmetic mean. So your example would result in a 35.3 MPG fleet average. To sell a 25 MPG car you would need to offset it with a 131.25 MPG car. A car that only benchmarked 21 MPG couldn’t be offset with any single car.

    More likely, though, would be that to sell a 25 MPG light truck you would need to offset it with a 27.5 MPG light truck.

    The current “penalty” is $55 per MPG under (per each vehicle in the entire fleet). So, a better way to look at it is that light trucks just got a $790 break from the government. In other words: given a light truck and a car that got the same MPG, the car would be hit with $790 more in penalties.

    Finally, the economy figures reported to the general public are far lower than the ones used for the CAFE calculation. A BMW 335i, if modified to qualify for “light truck” status (flat folding rear seat to create a “flat bed”?), would probably meet the 26.2 MPG right now.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Someone a short while ago asked me to stop “politicizing” automobiles

    Thoughtful political analysis that attempts to read between the lines, without hyperbole or hysteria, is good. Cliched rants based upon over-the-top fringe theories, alleged “truth movements” and hack YouTube videos, not so much.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Detroit is coming to love green. No doubt about it. Today’s Volts and Circuits of outrageous fortune are tomorrow’s carbon credits. If it’s green enough, the government credit will cover at least part of a model’s losses in the market.

    It’s win-win for Obama in the short term, but it makes a hollow mockery of his fiscal responsibility window dressing. Which will make it an easy target later on. Meanwhile, what do Detroit’s “survivors” do with the money? Give it to the Italians? The Canadians (Magna, Ford’s EV partner)?

    The major problem with the whole strategy is that it presumes the presence of a “national auto industry” that doesn’t exist.

    And yet I find myself surprisingly at peace with this pre-announcement. Everyone knew CAFE was going up, and I think the California issue was thorny enough to justify a “better a bad decision than no decision” approach.

    The notion that enthusiasm for automobiles is inextricably linked to gasoline doesn’t hold up for me. By all means, let’s romanticize internal combustion while we can, but I think we all knew this day was coming.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Well PCH101, anyone who “believes” what we are witnessing…the complete takeover of both GM and Chrysler by the Govt (mind you, totally unprecedented in U.S. History), then by all means- I have a small Chrysler/Fiat 500 to sell you.

    Arrivaderci.

    Now go back to sleep. Better yet, turn on TV…it’s for your own good you know.

    Amazing that- someone not believing the bullshit. Hey, maybe that idea can germinate into a website…you know, the Truth about cars!

  • avatar
    Rastus

    BTW- yes, the “cult” of green, the so-called “Green Movement” is all geared to manipulate you into “accepting” a lower standard of living. There’s not one ounce of “green” involved.

    Why attack CO2 when there are ALL KINDS Of real, toxic pollutants which actually kill people. Mercury, Arsenic, Lead…why not go after these poisons? No…let’s target CO2…something which plants need to grow.

    I’m glad you’re a true believer PCH. I recall you stating we should all learn from the “better” form of government as practices in Finland.

    I value your thoughtful analysis…but I’ll NEVER swallow that pill (re. Socialism). Sorry- call me a crackpot all you will, I’ve definitely heard worse in my time.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Amazing that- someone not believing the bullshit.

    Gotcha. Those who are on the fringe tend to think that they are in possession of some unique insight that others can’t see. The wackier the theorist, the more brilliant that he believes himself to be.

    Homeless folks tend to take the same approach when it comes to having conversations — they speak to people who nobody else can’t see, often quite fervently at that. Of course, we know that they’re not uniquely gifted Ghost Whisperers, but just nuts.

    Here’s a thought — if you can’t support your argument with supportable data or historical precedent, then it might not be a very good argument. If it relies on an elaborate conspiracy theory for its main support, then it’s probably just really out there and best left to the nice medical personnel with the white coats to deal with.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Homeless folks tend to take the same approach when it comes to having conversations — they speak to people who nobody else can’t see, often quite fervently at that. Of course, we know that they’re not uniquely gifted Ghost Whisperers, but just nuts.

    I didn’t realize all homeless people were mentally ill.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Crackpot nonsense such as this?

    http://www.redorbit.com/news/space/16813/the_south_polar_ice_cap_of_mars_is_melting/

    That’s just a taste. I’m not going to write a dissertation here in this box to satisfy a socialist. If you want to learn the truth, you will. If you don’t…you won’t. It’s all very simple really.

    But the information is there for the viewing.

    People oftentimes choose not to see. Which is fine…so long as they know what they are doing.

    Just recall- when they start telling you you are “against humanity” in regards to the Global Warming “Refugees”, I refuse to listen.

    http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/703/36535

    But don’t worry people- Obama’s “Cap and Trade” Govt bureaucracy will save us all from ourselves. You see- gov’t is ALWAYS the solution. It’s just that crackpots such as myself simply refuse to “believe”. Why is that?

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3699

    Global Bureaucracy is ALWAYS the solution. And if there’s no real “problem”, then we will just have to create one!!

  • avatar
    Autopassion

    Jeeze – not too cynical. Anyone remember when Detroit said they couldn’t possibly meet new safety standards in the 50′s (oh no, seat belts!) and 60′s and…? Same with the early CAFE standards?

    As has already been mentioned, cars in Europe are already close to the new CAFE standard and all manufacturers – foreign and domestic alike – will have to meet them, and folks there (Japan too) seem to get around just fine with some interesting and appealing cars.

    If any remaining U.S. manufacturers want to punt and produce less fuel efficient cars and pass the fines onto consumers, well then the market will decide if that’s a workable plan.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    The “Intergovernmental Panel” states:

    “Soon, the world will see less snow and ice, as well as more floods, hurricanes, droughts, and heat waves.”

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3699

    Create stress, worry, and soon…they will yield…that is their sleazebag agenda.

    My god, floods, hurricanes, and droughts!!! It’s all your fault PCH101. You see, your moniker is of the form of a major auto thoroughfare. Perhaps you may wish to change your name to “Great Wall of China”. or “The Good Society”. After all, it’s in our best interest to replace freedom (as represented by the automobile) with tributes to enslavement.

    Autopassion, do you see the hypocrisy in your statement?

    ‘pass the fines onto consumers, well then the market will decide if that’s a workable plan.”

    Don’t you see that gov’t “fines” and “the market” are completely at odds? Why must the gov’t “fine” automakers for building a product which “the market” decides will succeed for fail? It’s completely nonsensical.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Interestingly, Dodge made a vehicle from 1982 to 1984 that would satisfy the proposed 2016 cafe standards.

    http://www.mpgfacts.com/?did=658&year=1984

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Rampage

  • avatar
    stuki

    CAFE and its ilk is popular specifically because direct taxes on CO2 and / or gas is much harder to game. The more complex and loophole friendly legislation is, the greater the chance it has of getting passed.

    Kind of sad, considering democracy was supposed to be about the citizenry having, at least indirect, legislative input.

  • avatar
    Autopassion

    Autopassion, do you see the hypocrisy in your statement?

    ‘pass the fines onto consumers, well then the market will decide if that’s a workable plan.”

    Don’t you see that gov’t “fines” and “the market” are completely at odds? Why must the gov’t “fine” automakers for building a product which “the market” decides will succeed for fail? It’s completely nonsensical.

    Reply:
    Maybe I should have said if any of them are stupid enough to ignore the standards (they won’t) and pass on the fines. The ongoing economic meltdown should be enough of an example to disprove the so-called efficiency on a free market, where yes, some serious enforcement and fines (!) could have prevented much that’s come to pass. What kind of fuel economy and safety do you think we’d have now without the earlier standards? The Libertarian philosophy doesn’t work for me, thanks.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’m not going to write a dissertation here in this box to satisfy a socialist.

    That’s fortunate. You needn’t prepare one for me, either.

    (I realize that you’d prefer to believe otherwise, but despite your efforts to pigeonhole me in lieu of offering a cogent argument, I’m not a socialist. Thanks for playing, though.)

  • avatar
    agenthex


    I think until politics stop interfering with vehicles, it’s fair game to discuss it here.

    Too late, all the roads they’re driven on are built as gov projects. Unless you agree to stop driving on those?

    -

    Also, an amendment to the editorial. The significant CAFE standards (2007) were signed into law by the last admin. If anything, the requirement for 2011 I think was dropped by 1mpg by obama’s folks. The 2016 carb standards were going to be law anyway, so pinning this on obama is itself a political move.

    As an aside, people need to remember that performance can determine elections, which have consequences. The folks dissatisfied with the results perhaps should’ve reminded the last guys that being so incompetent isn’t a good idea.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Anyone who states we, as Americans, should “rethink” our freedom-loving ways and embrace “a better” way of doing things ….along the lines of socialism and in particular Finland….is a socialist.

    You can flavor it any way you like- call yourself a “liberal”, a “progressive”…whatever you like. The underlying theme of bigger, all-encompassing regulation/government is socialism…in name and in deed.

    No amount of financial and analytical eloquence will change that. You are a good writer- but I do not and will not embrace socialism…and I make no apologies whatsoever.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    No…let’s target CO2…something which plants need to grow.…

    Actually, the Supreme Court disagrees with you. They have given the decision that CO2 is in fact a pollutant. This by the “Roberts/Scalito” court…

    CAFE may be flawed by many standards, but it did provide some minimum floor, a floor that would have been much lower had CAFE not existed. Best bet would be to eliminate all the loopholes, and set reasonable standards, one for cars, one for light trucks. The standards could be incrementally raised to increase the minimum floor. Not having a slowly increasing standard is one of the fatal flaws of CAFE’s past because as technology that improved efficiency became commonplace, the gains were completely offset by size and power.

    One only has to look at the historical record of the auto industry and any requirement to regulate the product in the name of societal good. “Can’t be done, not possible, unsaleable, will cost American jobs, yada, yada. Funny when a standard that improves the environment is floated, American industry waves the “cost American Jobs” banner. Yet when shipping manufacturing overseas is proposed, it is necessary to “be competitive”. What a crock of stinky Doberman shit.

    Rastus: Don’t be so negative on cap and trade. It has been remarkably successful in reducing acid rain from power plant emissions. Thankfully, the White House is again ready to embrace real science when deciding policy. Most welcome, considering the intellectual vacuum of the last eight years. Try looking at sources that are not so politically aligned when trying to do research.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Dear Conservatives:

    I’m curious about this government-free place that is full of freedom. Maybe you could find a few as ideal examples to edumacate us.

    While we eagerly await your finalists for the conservative utopia we can model ourselves after (non-fictional references only please), kindly refrain from wasting effort ranting (because we know you’re right) and use that brainpower to prevent a screwed up future for all of us. Please work really hard on finding this as apparently our survival as a nation depends on it.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    Our president did not dig the hole Chrysler and GM management, unions, and dealers dug themselves into.

    Our president is trying to pull something out of the hole management, unions, and dealers find themselves in. Some of his rescue efforts will work and some won’t. This is new territory.

    And our president is trying to save something while at the same time we must clean up the air and put an end to sending our money to countries with oil.

    42 mpg for cars and 26.2 for trucks by 2016 is easy to obtain and a gift to the auto & truck manufacturers.

    Also, the 3 U.S. electric power grids are not strained at night and the power companies would appreciate having the grids used evenly over 24 hours with electric or hybrid car batteries being recharge at night.

    There is no conspiracy. There are 7 billion people on earth and we have to share. Balance your RIGHT to a 2 ton piss poor efficiency Camaro with the RIGHT of someone in Bangladesh having land above water.

  • avatar
    Monty

    “Dear Conservatives:

    I’m curious about this government-free place that is full of freedom. Maybe you could find a few as ideal examples to edumacate us.

    While we eagerly await your finalists for the conservative utopia we can model ourselves after (and non-fictional references only please), kindly refrain from political ranting (please work really hard on finding this as our future depends on it) and screwing it up for the rest of us.”

    I believe you would find those government-free places in some cave in Europe that dates back about 20,000 years.

    Humans exist as a sort of collective (gasp!), or tribe, operating under a set of rules or laws administered by a form of government (kings, religous leaders, elected officials, what have you) otherwise choas and anarchy would prevail. It’s upto the people to police the police, however, and that’s where North Americans fail, in a big way.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Best bet would be to eliminate all the loopholes, and set reasonable standards, one for cars, one for light trucks.

    Having a different standard for light trucks is a loophole. Aside from the loopholes, CAFE has a fundamental flaw: it doesn’t really address the problem. The problem is total overall fossil fuel use, which is only one of many many factors that together determine fuel use.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    and that’s where North Americans fail, in a big way.

    Hey now, you leave the america bashing to our self-loathing liberals.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    it doesn’t really address the problem.

    It does. It’s part of a multi-prone approach to it.

    The general idea is to create incentive for greater efficiency. Price is certainly an incentive but the euro model tends to put excessive burden directly on consumers, especially given historical and real factors that determine our driving habits today, and there’s really no point to force productivity decrease on the principle of it. Perhaps easing it on may work over a longer schedule.

    If the legislation can achieve a reasonable partial result, there’s no reason to decline it.

    “Conservatives” should really be applauding this, since the goal is the same, and this is the solution that involves less taxation.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    golden2husky :
    Actually, the Supreme Court disagrees with you. They have given the decision that CO2 is in fact a pollutant. This by the “Roberts/Scalito” court…

    More accurate: The Supreme Court agrees that the Clean Air Act allows the EPA to classify CO2 a pollutant.

    There’s nothing to prevent a future Congress from changing the law so that CO2 = Apple Pie w/ Vanilla Ice Cream.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    More accurate:

    No, that’s not it either. They’ve essentially said there better be a good reason for not regulating this given the letter of the law. Also, it’s not up to congress to make that determination. For someone claiming accuracy, that’s a rather poor job.

    “The petitioners were found to have standing, the Clean Air Act does give the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases, and the EPA is required to review its contention that it has discretion in regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions—specifically, its current rationale for not regulating was found to be inadequate, and the agency must articulate a reasonable basis in order to avoid regulation.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_v._Environmental_Protection_Agency

  • avatar
    peterb

    Seriously guys, without naming names, next time remember to put on your tinfoil hat before posting, OK?

    As folkdancer points out, these regulations (assuming they end up as expected) are probably as much a boon to the car companies as they are a burden. Specifically, there being Federal standards means they will preempt state standards, so California won’t be allowed to raise the standards. That provides the US consumer with higher mpg, more efficient cars (diesels for everyone!), and provides the auto manufacturers with 8 guaranteed years of fuel efficiency stability. Everyone wins.

    From a practical standpoint, manufacturers would have to meet the California standards ANYWAY, since more cars are sold in California than in every single non-Texas Southeastern and Southwestern state combined.

    On another note, if you think driving one car or another “neuters” or “emasculates” you, that’s probably a sign that you’re doing masculinity wrong.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    How well does CAFE work if nobody buys the cars that meet the standards?

    If fines are imposed for breaking the numbers, why isn’t is simply prohibited? If the goal is to save fuel and reduce “pollution” they why allow fines to be paid for going over (and you should be aware many many companies are already paying fines right now)? This idea is as stupid as the photo-enforced, no-points-on-license speeding tickets that are about “safety”.

    The fines are a tax. Just a round-about one.

    “Free market” has always had some limitations. With this administration, “free market” has and will continue to change to “whatever the government decides”.

    And American jobs have been lost and will be lost. If nobody wants to buy super-expensive high MPG cars, nobody is going to be needed to build them.

    Its frankly disgusting. The lack of personal responsibility is shockingly high, and enabled, from the poor man up to the wealthiest mo-fos in the United States, by a government that won’t let existing processes work, that won’t let big business fail, and won’t let poor lazy bums stay poor and lazy. Everyone gets theirs, paid for by the middle class.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Seriously, next time remember to put on your tinfoil hat before posting.

    PSA:

    Metallic shields in form of hats are worthless. To repel mind control waves effectively, a faraday cage is necessary, preferably a metal box without holes. Remember, you must stay in the cage to remain protected.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    All of the large automakers are on board with the new plan:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Obama-taps-consumers-for-apf-15285087.html?.v=16

    GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda & Daimler all plan to have executives flanking Obama when he makes the formal announcement. The automakers say they are relieved to have a clear set of rules which will apply nationwide, instead of two or more sets depending on the state. California’s cash strapped government is relieved to be getting pretty much the rules they want without having to do all of the heavy lifting of setting regulations and monitoring for compliance. Getting the whole country onto the same rulebook for emissions and fuel economy standards is a good move.

    Also, contrary to popular opinion, CAFE was very effective at raising the overall vehicle efficiency level in the US over the first six or so years it was in place. It only stopped driving improvement when the rules went into the deep freeze in 1984.

  • avatar
    kaleun

    When oil prices go up again you will wish your government would have “forced” more efficient cars on you a long time ago.
    True, CAFE is not perfect, but at least it provides some mileage-floor.
    And many cars being sold nowadays in Europe and Japan meet those 2014 standards already. They have Autobahn and are happy with those cars. I think they would be good enough for the US with maximum 80 mph. Actually my first car (26 hp 2-stroke 2-cylinder Trabant) could have dealt with the US speed limit. 4 more years of serious research and good will among the car OEM and you get some decent and nice cars with that mileage.
    And if you “need” an 8-cylinder, hey, go ahead and pay the gas guzzler tax and have one. But the majority of cars will be more efficient and that is good for everyone, including the guy with the 8-cylinder. If you can’t afford the gas-guzzler tax,, hey, maybe not everyone can afford a sports car… the same way I can’t afford a Porsche or Ferrari. (not sure what is sporty about a sports car anyway, considering the motor is doing the work and not the driver)

    Be happy there is some government taking care of things. Sure, they are not perfect. But in a wild West society you would not have a car industry, refineries etc. Trust me, government is the lesser evil.

    Having some planning security is worth gold to the car industry. Giving the industry 5 years to plan ahead for an event that requires technology that already exists and has been used for years in the mass market, that is not so bad if you are somewhat innovative. Of course, the Detroit-3 are not really known to be that flexible…
    Hell, in theory they could shut down the factories over the summer and start spitting out cars meeting those standards in fall. Most of the OEM have such cars in other markets. Dealing with some safety and emission standards seems not much of a hassle considering it took just a little more time to plan flying to the moon.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    If fines are imposed for breaking the numbers, why isn’t is simply prohibited? If the goal is to save fuel and reduce “pollution” they why allow fines to be paid for going over (and you should be aware many many companies are already paying fines right now)?

    It’s a sham in order to appease both wings of a centrist political system and to keep the voters from becoming too agitated. On the center-left, you have folks with environmental concerns who want to do something, while on the center-right, you have people who dislike fuel taxes because, well, they dislike all taxes.

    With that, you end up with CAFE, which is effectively engineered to be ineffective, just window dressing. The fact is that there is almost no politician in either party within 3,000 miles of Washington would want to endorse a higher fuel tax, in fear of being booted out in the next election. CAFE is just a harmless way to stay elected, while pretending to care. Guess what — they don’t really care.

  • avatar
    mel23

    We’d be in better shape all around if laws/regulations were products of facts and logic instead of “the art of the possible”. Sure, a good way to raise the MPG of cars would be a fuel tax. But our freedom-loving childish citizenry won’t stand for it, so we have to play games to get any improvement. Obama could have campaigned saying that he’d ‘like’ to do whatever, while admitting that the ‘conservatives’ in congress would shoot it down. I doubt he’d get elected let alone get anything accomplished by admitting defeat before he started. So he does what’s possible which is commit to objectives that probably won’t pass the art of the possible threshold. And, being the children we are, we blame politicians for doing what we collectively insist they do and not doing what we collectively won’t permit. And we get to continue the charade of blaming the politicians; other than the sleazeballs from our own state/district of course.

  • avatar
    Garak

    Rastus:

    Anyone who states we, as Americans, should “rethink” our freedom-loving ways and embrace “a better” way of doing things ….along the lines of socialism and in particular Finland….is a socialist.

    Are you implying that Finland is a socialist country, and somehow even more socialist than others? Nice to hear that.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Guess what — they don’t really care.

    They would care if their constituents cared, and therein lies the problem. (Damn, beat by mel23)

    Remember all those hippies all going on about conservation and planting or hugging trees or whatever? Yeah well, it turned out they were right, and it probably would’ve been better and cheaper if we had done it that way. Embarassing, huh?

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Plenty of cars have a 42mpg combined rating, according to the EPA. Here’s a few to start:

    1984 Honda Civic coupe: 57 combined
    1984 Toyota Starlet: 49
    1984 Chevrolet Chevette Diesel: 49
    1984 Dodge Colt: 46
    1984 VW Rabbit Diesel: 52
    1984 Ford Escort: 44
    1984 Renault Alliance: 43

    Maybe you want a truck?

    1984 Chevrolet S-10 diesel: 38
    1984 Dodge RAM-50 Diesel: 37
    1984 Isuzu P’up Diesel: 43
    1984 Toyota truck Diesel: 40

    So you see, none of this is difficult. There’s eleven vehicles right there that meet Obama’s proposed CAFE.

    I’ll take the Toyota Starlet, thanks.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    That’s exactly what I’m saying. Any country which gives up its very own sovereignty to a “super-state” is by definition socialist. The super-state no longer represents member constituents and instead takes on a life of its own. The state becomes the be-all and end-all. It’s sole purpose is to grow in power, size, and influence.

    Don’t believe me? Try voting for the next EU “President”. Hint, you won’t get very far as he/she is appointed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_members

    It doesn’t take but a google search to learn what life is like in the EU. Better yet, go visit. European “nations” are nothing of their former selves…that is, they have been completely neutered and/or emasculated. Italy is but a shell of it’s former self. Same goes with Germany, France….on down the line to include Finland (our source of such brilliant inspiration).

    It pains me to see a beautiful nation such as the U.S. go down this same despicable path. Anyone with a relative and/or family member who has served in our military at one time or another…who may have died and/or shed blood….to give everything this country once stood for up to a bunch of criminals is disgusting. But there will always be a minority out there, driving their Geo Metros around …saying we need to give even MORE, either in taxation, reduced living standards, or all of the above. That’s not what made this nation great.

    Believe all your spoon-fed BS on global warming and how SUV’s are killing Bangladeshi children all you want.

  • avatar
    DearS

    I wonder if we car folk will focus on other things once cars suck. Politics, spirituality, and clubbing seem like possible alternatives.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    But in a wild West society you would not have a car industry, refineries etc. Trust me, government is the lesser evil.

    you don’t really know much about the ‘wild’ west do you.

  • avatar
    ajla

    @DearS:
    I wonder if we car folk will focus on other things once cars suck. Politics, spirituality, and clubbing seem like possible alternatives.

    Hey man speak for yourself. I’m going to own the bitchin’est modern rendition of the 1984 Renault Alliance anyone has ever seen.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Rastus.

    In what way is Italy a shell of its former self?

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    agenthex:
    They’ve essentially said there better be a good reason for not regulating this given the letter of the law. Also, it’s not up to congress to make that determination. For someone claiming accuracy, that’s a rather poor job.

    Last time I read the constitution, Congress can change the letter of the law. By repealing and amending entire sections of the Clean Air Act, CO2 could become a non-pollutant. The relevant Supreme Court decision would become moot (or would need to be re-litigated / re-argued).

    Is this likely? No.
    Is it possible? Maybe, especially if the EPA goes off the deep end.

    Congress can, and does, change laws by making exceptions and to work around court & regulatory decisions.

    Example: In the 1970s, Congress stuck a legislative shiv in the FDA when they tried to regulate saccharine.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Let me turn that question around HEATHROI and ask you: What makes HEATHROI a man, and not a child/infant?

    I don’t know your exact answer. But if I were asked the same question, I’d say things such as “being able to make my own decisions in life, being both defined by my own success as well as failures, my ability to learn and grow as a person, etc.”.

    In other words, you are a man because you are no longer subservient to a parent who tells you what to do, how to behave, when to take a bath and wash your ass, ….you know, things like that. Maybe even being able to down a half-pint of Irish Whiskey if you so damn well desire. You know…being a MAN.

    Italy is subservient to the EU. Plain and simple. It goes for all EU “nations”. Self-determination is a sweet thing. Why someone CHOOSES to give that up is beyond me.

    If you give up freedom for security- the ironic thing is you get neither (that’s a well-worn statement, but it’s absolutely true). How can Italian’s be secure when they are not even able to court their own destiny? They gave that up for the “greater good”.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    The government of Italy joined the EU because allowed Italian politicians a larger playpen to operate in.

    Not because they needed some Father figure in Brussels (except maybe a blind sugar daddy with deep and wide pockets)

    If you think for a moment that France or Germany or even the Greeks would take the slightest notice of the EU president, well you are sadly mistaken.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Last time I read the constitution, Congress can change the letter of the law. By repealing and amending entire sections of the Clean Air Act, CO2 could become a non-pollutant.

    That’s rather beside the point since it was about who must make the determination according to the law. The EPA, now with scientists and whatnot, get to make the determination.

    You know…being a MAN.

    You know what’s REALLY MANLY? Being a pirate.

    Unfortunately those pussies in America won’t let you commandeer ships, take hostages, ramsack their booty, and generally act like an f_cking badass, so you better go to some awesome place like Somalia to live out the life of a manly man.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    I agree totally. On one hand, you have govt which wants even more power, more influence, and more of everything.

    It is the people on the other hand who DO become infantile little servile creatures. Their means of influence over their daily lives have been nearly completely eliminated. And in that respect they have indeed become children…or shall we say, “wards of the state”.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Any crook, thief, or murderer is not a man. If that is your world-view, I pity you.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    n other words, you are a man because you are no longer subservient to a parent who tells you what to do, how to behave, when to take a bath and wash your ass, ….you know, things like that. Maybe even being able to down a half-pint of Irish Whiskey if you so damn well desire. You know…being a MAN.

    No. I now have a wife.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Any crook, thief, or murderer is not a man.

    No, you don’t get the pirate code. You’re just exchanging their continued livelihoods on the open market for a fair price. If they had valued it enough in the first place, they should’ve rationalized the risks involved more carefully before setting on the awesome governmentless high seas. In any case, you’ve already honored your self-determined manly ethics by granting them parlay instead of just slaughtering them. What you think pirates are animals?

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Please go take your BS straw man argument somewhere else, ok? It’s not worth entertaining.

    Better yet, …go to Somalia and help them create a society where a strong middle class exists…so they can afford to buy a 2-ton Camaro to drive to the grocery store and buy all the food they want.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    European “nations” are nothing of their former selves…that is, they have been completely neutered and/or emasculated. Italy is but a shell of it’s former self. Same goes with Germany, France….on down the line to include Finland (our source of such brilliant inspiration).

    At exactly what time period in history do you think Europe was full of these great and noble nations which you morn the loss of? Europe spent almost all of its history engaged in brutal and largely pointless wars. But you have to give it to the various Reichs, they certainly had big ones. “When the rich wage war, it is the poor who die.” Jean-Paul Sartre

  • avatar

    # Robert Farago :
    May 18th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    They’ll do this AND raise gas taxes.

    They have to if they want to keep the revenue stream flowing as less gasoline is purchased.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Jargon, jargon, jargon, jargon, witty comment you most likely heard somewhere else, jargon, jargon, link to website that has info you agree with, jargon, snarky-thinly-veiled insult to person’s intelligence you disagree with, and jargon.

    If that’s you (reguardless of political affiliation) be aware that you’re not being as original/witty/intelligent as you think you are.

    Just sayin’.

  • avatar
    Garak


    Rastus:

    Any country which gives up its very own sovereignty to a “super-state” is by definition socialist.

    The Republic of Texas gave up its sovereignty when it joined the United States. Were they socialists too?

    But you are right about the EU, my country should have never joined it.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Please go take your BS straw man argument somewhere else, ok? It’s not worth entertaining.

    So I take it you don’t like pirates. How about ninjas, who come from a land of strict discipline, but they honor no formal rules to achieve ultimate success (except when bound by ninja code, of course).

    -
    Better yet, …go to Somalia and help them create a society where a strong middle class exists…

    No way. Somalia is the shiznit without 5-0 getting all up in everybody’s biznez. Tell us why you gotta ruin the libertarian hood with all that social-economic stability? Don’t you see that when crummy govz in neighboring ethiopia and eritrea provide minimal civil order, they got no PIRATES? (or ninjas).

    -
    Jargon, jargon, jargon, jargon, witty comment you most likely heard somewhere else,

    Yeah, I’ll even tell you where. Something I read in the paper about omg awesome buccaneers, plus pirates of the caribbean movie. It’s real cute that some think the original remarks are part of a serious discussion. Guess where this one’s from:

    If you use dumb jargon, I gotta parody that jargon, ‘cus that’s ninja code.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Jargon, jargon, jargon, jargon, witty comment you most likely heard somewhere else, jargon, jargon, link to website that has info you agree with, jargon, snarky-thinly-veiled insult to person’s intelligence you disagree with, and jargon.

    If that’s you (reguardless of political affiliation) be aware that you’re not being as original/witty/intelligent as you think you are.

    Just sayin’.

    Yep, that about sums it up.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Mercury, Arsenic, Lead…why not go after these poisons? No…let’s target CO2…something which plants need to grow.

    Ah yes, I’m sure that the diminishing number of trees in the world are astounded at the sudden ‘embarrassment of riches’.

    Actually, there’s more poison and vitriol in the atmosphere of public discourse these days – I suppose the TRUE sign of freedom is that there’s no EPA (Emasculate Public Activism) to regulate it.

    But maybe a little ‘self-regulation’ is in order at times.

    I agree to buy an affordable, usable electric vehicle as soon as I can so that there’s enough gas left for ‘pistonheads’ to enjoy their passion (and are willing to pay for it).

    Hell, I grew up in the 60′s and 70′s – the time when American Iron underwent the greatest “emasculation”, courtesy of the US Government, in history. Smog controls, huge bumpers, SIDE MARKER LIGHTS…

    Geez.

    Cars got smaller, then bigger, then bigger then BIGGER –

    Seems like “freedom” to me.

    Like any other phase, the world will not end.

    Sorta like a kid with a broken toy, crying his eyes out – don’t worry, we’ll buy you a newer, BETTER one!

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    What a mean-looking man in the picture. That’s not merely a sourpuss face, it sure seems there’s something worse there.

  • avatar
    peterb

    Somehow my web browser seems to have incorrectly loaded The Truth About Nutbar Political Wanking. Maybe if I update my web browser it’ll be fixed.

    Please, give it a rest. Let’s talk about cars. Pretty please?

  • avatar
    Airhen

    Not even my 2009 Civic Coupe gives me 42 mpg as efficient and as well built as it is (and is still able to cruise at 70 mph). The best I’m getting is 34 mpg with 80% highway driving (no stop and go either).

    Oh, and I’m going to put a new bumper sticker on my Civic: It’s All Obama’s Fault.

  • avatar
    Monty

    “it doesn’t really address the problem.

    It does. It’s part of a multi-prone approach to it.

    The general idea is to create incentive for greater efficiency. Price is certainly an incentive but the euro model tends to put excessive burden directly on consumers, especially given historical and real factors that determine our driving habits today, and there’s really no point to force productivity decrease on the principle of it. Perhaps easing it on may work over a longer schedule.

    If the legislation can achieve a reasonable partial result, there’s no reason to decline it.”

    A tax on fuel would no doubt help, however.

    Just look north to your friendly Canadian neighbours (you can spot the Canucks in the crowd by their use of the letter “u” in words like neighbour!). We live in a giant country with extreme distances between major cities, yet Canadians purchase far more fuel-efficient cars compared to Americans. Why? Because we have a direct tax on fuel, and have had for many years. Right on the pump it’s noted that two different levels of government are picking our pockets. The end result? More small cars and less driving compared to our fellow North Americans.

    A significant tax on gas would be the one act that would do what is needed, but that will not happen. It would too much of a political hot-potato for most Americans to stomach.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    Unfortunately the liberals in charge of the education system have poisoned the minds of our upcoming generation on social and environmental issues to the point that the right thinking have little hope to correct things. We will be dying off too fast to only maybe have one more shot at running the socialists out of town.

    We are heading to a Europeization of this great country with all the economic stagnation, high and chronic unemployment and wasteful large government nanny statism that entails. Europe itself will bow to Islam and be lost forever in 14th century misery. The real economic powerhouses will be China and Asia who be producing cars and most of the things we consume because we will have made industry too expensive here to continue for all but the very highest value items. They will be using the coal, oil and nuclear power that we refuse to use.

    In fact we’ll mine the coal and sell it to them and end up buying their cars, produced from the energy it generates. Our oil reserves will remain locked up while we buzz around this vast land locked in our cities in electric powered vehicles that are useless for anything but hauling our butts from place to place. Any sort of rural lifestyle will be dead and essentially revert back to a pre-Industrialization state, except for the government run farms that will farm vast acreage, the tractors and combines will use what supplies of fuel the government allows to be produced.

    Livestock production in the hands of individuals will be gone, it’s almost all corporate now anyway, and will be strictly regulated, controlled and the meat products will be largely unaffordable to the average consumer due to the high costs built into the production. The dwindling electric supply will come from expensive and high maintenance wind and solar sources while the heavy lifting of generation will be the very aging coal and nuclear plants that remain, those that won’t be replaced when they are too uneconomical to continue in operation.

    Cheap fusion will be a long way off and will be so regulated that it will no longer be cheap, look what happened to “cheap nuclear” (“so cheap it won’t even be worth metering”, they said). Global cooling will continue but ignored by “climate changists” who will suddenly discover it and go off in some new wacky direction, probably blaming the automobile for it, somehow.

    No, I’m not pessimistic!

  • avatar
    agenthex

    We live in a giant country with extreme distances between major cities, yet Canadians purchase far more fuel-efficient cars compared to Americans

    The average disposable income also tends to be less and most model lines are stratified by size.

    I’m not saying a gas tax is ineffective, but solutions need to be politically feasible, and to be effective a disincentive tax needs to be substantive which is not. The political culture needs to change because we effectively have two parties whose main draw for swing votes are middle class tax cuts.

    -
    Yep, that about sums it up.

    Apparently the veil of parody was not thin enough.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Europe itself will bow to Islam and be lost forever in 14th century misery.

    It’s funny you mention that because we already have our own fundamentalist party who are still debating topics once thought resolved in the civilized world since the middle ages.

    Maybe you should worry about those guys first before getting all hysterical about what you read on their websites.

  • avatar
    King Bojack

    Cafe is total bullshit. Quality economists have heard of Jevon’s Paradox and how forcibly enhancing MPGs will encourage the US to simply drive more. Until gas gets expensive we’ll continue our assault on the oil reserves. God our government is retarded.

    I mean honestly, if I all of a sudden can drive to Atlanta (I live in Orlando) for like 5 bucks round trips, fuck I’ll take the family up there like every weekend.

  • avatar

    Taxes are definitely going up as a result.


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