Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Click and Clack clamor for cleaner ClAFE

Posted by Daniel Hall on November 1, 2007

Tom and Ray Magliozzi (the Car Talk guys) have sent a letter to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming in support of higher CAFE standards. They get off to a (predictably) funny start:

To Members of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming:

You are about to make a crucial decision that may be a turning point for our country. As you consider how high to raise our nation’s CAFE standards, you are undoubtedly coming under a barrage of lobbying from various parties. Including us! The obvious question is, who do you believe?

On the one hand, you have people like Ed Markey, who’s been trying to increase fuel economy for as long as we can remember. Admittedly, he’s from Massachusetts. And yes, we’ve seen his haircut.

On the other hand, you have the automotive industry (i.e. car salesmen), whose ratings for honesty are below even those of Congress in public opinion surveys.

They go on to point out that the auto industry has consistently overestimated the costs of increasing efficiency standards, and argue that [emphasis original throughout]:

The truth is, significantly higher average fuel economy can be achieved. …

There are technologies aplenty that already exist that could be used to meet much higher CAFE standards.

They then list about 15 different technologies, from hybrid-electric vehicles to better transmissions, which could raise fuel economy and then conclude:

The truth is, we could achieve a CAFE standard of 35 miles per gallon in five years if we made it a priority. Every one of the above technologies is either available now or is well along in the pipeline. There’s nothing “pie in the sky” here that hasn’t been thought of or invented yet. …

Trust us, the car companies won’t go out of business because America insists that they build the world’s best, most efficient cars. We urge you to set the bar high for American ingenuity. We have no doubt our car industry will make the grade — to the benefit of all Americans.

Interesting. They may not be economists, but they are clearly indicating they think that higher CAFE standards pass a benefit-cost analysis.

H/T: WSJ Washington Wire.

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