Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bush Auto Mileage Rules--Too Little, Too Late

Well, here we are six years into George W. Bush's presidency, and at least two or three years after he first promised in his State of the Union to raise mileage standards so as to wean Americans of their "addiction" to foreign oil, and Bush has finally done something.

Really putting their feet to the fire, the President has ordered four federal agencies to submit new regulations to reduce greenhouse gases from cars and trucks--and, by golly, get them to him pronto--no later than 30 days before his term ends. In other words, despite bold phrases and gestures from the Decider-in-Chief, we won't even get a proposed rule until he is--thankfully--about out the door.

Fortunately, this lame gesture at appearing to do something while actually doing nothing is of little moment because events have overtaken the President. Record-high gasoline prices practically ensure that Americans will continue to ditch their SUV's in favor of smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles over the next couple of years.

Yes, GM and Ford (and whatever's left of Chrysler) will be hurt, losing additional market share to their more nimble competitors, but we will have a more fuel efficient fleet despite the government's foot dragging.

That's not to say the government shouldn't act--fuel prices are notoriously volatile and Americans may yet get used to the higher prices without making significant enough changes. A broader program of either a "cap and trade" system for carbon emissions, or a carbon tax, however, will, in the long run, accomplish far more than simply mandating higher mileage on U.S. cars.

Will Congress act? We'll see.

No comments: