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Some government officials warn that pushing manufacturers to produce EVs will take away access to cheaper hybrids, diesels. Tesla Model S pictured above.  (Source: Tesla Motors)
All lawmakers in Washington aren't behind Obama's proposed CAFE standards

One of President Obama's many focuses these days seems to be ensuring that the U.S. has less dependence on foreign oil than it has today by time he leaves office. The Obama administration has been working hard with states and automakers to come to agreement on the CAFE regulations that will govern the required fleet wide fuel economy figures in the future.

The final standard that Obama is wanting forces a fleetwide average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025. That doesn't count heavy-duty trucks though; those types of vehicles have separate fuel economy standards to adhere too. This week, John D. Graham, who headed the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2001-2006, said that the Obama administration is overstating the benefits of the 54.5mpg fleetwide average.

Graham also criticized the plan to give automakers credits for building electric vehicles and failed to take into account the impact of generating the electricity the vehicles use. Graham also claims that Obama is overstating the long-term benefits of the increased fuel economy standards and is forecasting higher fuel prices than what the Energy Information Agency is predicting.

Graham is not alone in making claims that the CAFE standards aren't going to do what the Obama administration is claiming. Rep. Darrell Issa (R, CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, went so far as to claim that giving double credits to automakers for EVs is akin to "fudging the numbers." Issa claims that automakers might be forced into building EVs at the expense of clean diesel or hybrid vehicles.

Starting in 2017, automakers will be able to use credits on EVs for less efficient vehicles in their fleet. Rep. Mike Kelly (R, PA) went so far as to say the 54.5mpg requirement would harm consumer choice and put the future of private transportation at risk.

"We're picking and choosing what people are allowed to drive and not drive or purchase," Kelly warned.

Graham echoed that statement, adding, "[One key issue for regulators] is whether the quest for more energy savings will inadvertently hurt consumers by causing vehicle manufacturers to produce cars and trucks that do not satisfy customer preferences for vehicle size, performance and/or safety.”

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By tastyratz on 9/15/2011 1:14:07 PM , Rating: 3
This is an absolutely true statement. I only wish that electric car drivers understood the same thing. Where do people get off thinking electric cars are the magical response to clean energy? Coal powers the majority and pollutes the most. When considering the pollution per watt of coal power, and the pollution to the environment disposal of the complicated batteries... one could argue the electric car is WORSE!

In the end I understand some regulation, but screw the gov wiping my ass for me, let me decide what I want to drive with my MONEY.

RE: absolutely
By phantom505 on 9/15/11, Rating: -1
RE: absolutely
By Iaiken on 9/15/2011 2:26:10 PM , Rating: 5
your money said "United States Federal Reserve"

Funny you should mention that. The "Federal Reserve" is neither Federal, nor does it operate on more than an 8% fractional reserve. The "United States Federal Reserve" is a private corporation whose stakeholders are not subject to a freedom of information act request.

The last government issued currency in the US was the Greenback. These were bills of credit that were born unto the market without the burden of interest.

RE: absolutely
By bjacobson on 9/16/2011 8:31:12 PM , Rating: 1
all this helps, but any system fueled by greed is doomed to fail eventually.

RE: absolutely
By Targon on 9/17/2011 5:52:36 AM , Rating: 2
Just about everything is fueled by a desire for "more" than the individual currently has. All currencies start with the idea that it is better to have a standard object to trade for goods than to have individual bartering for every transaction.

So, greed is what makes people go to work every day, because they WANT to keep what they currently have, plus hopefully get more than they currently have. Being focused on currency, without the understanding about WHY currency is even useful is where problems enter the picture.

RE: absolutely
By tastyratz on 9/15/2011 3:31:37 PM , Rating: 3
My apologies, I didn't realize patriotism didn't involve questioning your government.

Point sources are easy to regulate, but with lack of current nuclear incentive and burden of deployment you don't exactly see many avenues for cost effective energy efficient green alternatives, do you? And do you think that the energy it takes at the plant is even close to the amount of energy that reaches your home or charging station?

Do you think this country was FOUNDED on the backs of those whom did not question those in power or demanded better?

I guess I do suppose the statement rings true: ignorance is bliss

RE: absolutely
By Wulf145 on 9/16/2011 6:12:14 AM , Rating: 3
"I am inviting you to move to a country of your choosing that you think will make you happy. You obviously hate this country since your interests are far superior than the interests of the country. Last I checked, your money said "United States Federal Reserve". I think you should give it back since you hate us so much. "

So this is the 'new' USA? Disagree with the policy of the President/Government and you shall be stripped of your assets and 'invited' to go into exile?

RE: absolutely
By Iaiken on 9/15/2011 2:04:41 PM , Rating: 3
Except that is only true in the US.

Canada may need to expand it's installed capacity, but it can do so via nuclear and it has almost completely removed coal from the picture in most provinces. In Ontario, Nuclear is expected to provide 50% of the power by 2025 and another 40% from hydro or other renewable sources.

However, I would agree that the EPA plan doesn't make sense for the United States when you consider the current installed capacity and energy policy. Hell, if they wanted to replace even the last of the nuclear plants built, they would have had to have broken ground on new ones back in 2008 and that just hasn't happened. They're having a hell of a time trying to switch the uranium enrichment process to one that is safer and more efficient.

Good luck.

RE: absolutely
By Omega215D on 9/15/2011 4:30:28 PM , Rating: 3
Recent nuclear incidents haven't helped much in the push for nuclear power and the protestors are out in ever growing numbers.

RE: absolutely
By Solandri on 9/15/2011 4:45:44 PM , Rating: 2
Which is a real shame since fossil fuels are thousands if not tens of thousands of times worse than nuclear. Nuclear may not be the best final solution, but it's the best solution we're technologically capable of producing within the next 20+ years.

RE: absolutely
By Solandri on 9/15/2011 4:43:04 PM , Rating: 2
Except that is only true in the US.

No, it is true for the entire world overall. The vast majority of the world's energy comes from fossil fuels.

Canada is among the handful of exceptions, primarily due to exceedingly low population density (you have a lot more natural resources per capita). Canada actually only produces about 40% more hydro power than the U.S. So if Canada had the same population as the U.S., your energy use breakdown would be very similar to the U.S. (instead of getting 3% of its energy from hydro as the U.S. does, you'd be at about 4% hydro).

The U.S. is actually slightly better than the world average, getting 83% of its energy from fossil fuels vs. 85% for the world overall.

RE: absolutely
By rikulus on 9/15/2011 2:11:46 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're right. We should be much more focused on replacing coal power with less polluting alternatives.

RE: absolutely
By invidious on 9/15/2011 3:02:11 PM , Rating: 2
Nuclear power doesn't get Obama reelected, pandering to left wing activists and auto industry lobiests does. At least thats what he hopes.

What I hope is that people vote with their brains next time instead of with their hearts.

RE: absolutely
By Scabies on 9/15/2011 4:54:30 PM , Rating: 4
"Your 2008 vote proved you weren't racist. Vote in 2012 to prove you aren't a moron."
-bumper sticker

RE: absolutely
By Black1969ta on 9/21/2011 3:41:22 AM , Rating: 2
"Your 2008 vote proved you weren't racist. Vote in 2012 to prove you aren't a moron." -bumper sticker

If you voted for Obama just because you didn't want friends and family to call you racist, then you voted for him because he's Black, which means you didn't vote for McCain because he was White! So, you are still racist!

Personally, I voted for Obama, I thought about McCain til I found out who his running mate was. I do have to wonder if Hilary would have made a better president than Obama.
Quite frankly, I am looking for a good independent candidate to run, I bet that I'm not the only one But I am fed up with both parties not representing what would benefit this country! Too worried about themselves than my children (all children) the idiocy with the debt ceiling was a prime example, yes it sucked to raise the ceiling, but drawing it out like that just made them both look like Drama Queen Divas, they are supposed to be "OUR" delegates, that means putting aside their own personal feelings. But until we force them to take notice of our feelings they will continue to trample on the things that made this country strong and powerful.

RE: absolutely
By anony on 9/15/2011 2:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
Building infrastructure for electric cars gives us the freedom to choose the source of energy to charge batteries in the future. It may be mostly coal now, but it can be a mixture of any number of clean(er) sources in the future.

RE: absolutely
By Targon on 9/17/2011 5:59:23 AM , Rating: 2
While the potential is there for improvement, the problem is that the consumer has virtually no control over the source of the electricity being used to power these vehicles, and that is the issue that many have with EV vehicles. Push EVs without pushing for cleaner power generation, and chances are you DO end up pushing for more coal power overall.

What uses more electric power in the USA, cars or homes/businesses? If the government pushes EVs, does that help clean up the power generation industry?

Now, if the CAFE standard concept were actually done in an intelligent way, instead of being the result of brain damaged morons with very little connection to the real world, more people might support the idea. Most people LIKE the idea of better fuel economy, the problem is that the government is pushing for it in the wrong way.

RE: absolutely
By Keeir on 9/15/2011 6:38:07 PM , Rating: 2
Coal powers the majority and pollutes the most. When considering the pollution per watt of coal power, and the pollution to the environment disposal of the complicated batteries... one could argue the electric car is WORSE!

And Oil is magically pumped from the ground, shipped round the world, refined and delievered into your gas tank with no pollution?

Lets be consistent about the level of examination

A. At Car
B. From Transition Source (Power Plant/Refinery)
C. From Ground

Electric Cars (Full or Serial Plug-in) are dramatically better when you fairly compare A, B, or C. If and only if you decide to limit your examination to 50+ year old Coal plants does a Toyota Prius start beating the Electric Car for real pollution, energy efficiency, and C02 emissions. You really have to cherry pick data to show a normal car is better.

US refineries consume non-insignificant amounts of Electricity and Natural Gas.

This study shows amount lost due to heating can be as high as 17% for gasoline. Note: This study did not examine the electrical costs, only the burned fuel.

This isn't just about the environment.
By danjw1 on 9/15/2011 2:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
This has national security and economic implications as well. Some of you see this only form the environmental standpoint, but that isn't the full picture.

We buy oil from totalitarian regimes, like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. We should not be supporting these regimes, and doing so puts us at risk.

As far as the economic consequences, we spend $200,000/minute for imported oil. This is an unacceptable drain on our economy. This NEEDS to be fixed.

RE: This isn't just about the environment.
By Reclaimer77 on 9/15/2011 2:55:26 PM , Rating: 1
We buy oil from totalitarian regimes, like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. We should not be supporting these regimes, and doing so puts us at risk.

Yeaaah Canada, our largest exporter or oil, is real totalitarian.

As far as the economic consequences, we spend $200,000/minute for imported oil. This is an unacceptable drain on our economy. This NEEDS to be fixed.

I agree with you there. So let's drill baby drill. Unless you're actually suggesting that we can magically pretend we don't need oil and all drive EV's??

By Iaiken on 9/15/2011 3:01:28 PM , Rating: 2
Yeaaah Canada, our largest exporter or oil, is real totalitarian.

If you feel like bowing before your hockey playing overloads, you can find us at Tim Horton's eh? And don't forget to bring some monopoly money as tribute eh?

Thanks eh?

RE: This isn't just about the environment.
By danjw1 on 9/15/2011 3:07:33 PM , Rating: 2
1. Canada is first
2. Mexico
3. Saudi Arabia
4. Venezuela


This is the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Sending any money to these countries is unacceptable.

By danjw1 on 9/15/2011 3:09:18 PM , Rating: 2
I am referring to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, not the first two, when I say sending money is unacceptable.

*Please add an edit post feature. :-)

RE: This isn't just about the environment.
By Reclaimer77 on 9/15/2011 3:34:25 PM , Rating: 1
Ok whatever, so your solution is what? Higher fuel economy standards and EV's? That's going to change anything?

RE: This isn't just about the environment.
By ipay on 9/15/2011 5:30:13 PM , Rating: 1
The solution to our energy problems are:

1. Increase fuel economy standards.
2. Increase the # of vehicles using alternative fuels, whether they are EVs or hydrogen, whatever.
3. Increase production of domestic oil.
4. Start building tons of nuclear power plants.
5. Update the electricity infrastructure - aka smart grids, etc.

Each of these items should be started immediately, and none of them would individually have much overall affect for many years to come. But in 10 years, all of them combined would make a significant difference.

Unfortunately, most of the people in the US are against at least half of the items in that list. Which is exactly why our energy problems are so bad to begin with.

By smitty3268 on 9/15/2011 10:46:04 PM , Rating: 2
and reduce ethanol use, or at least corn-based ethanol.

By Dr of crap on 9/16/2011 1:05:26 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot the one thing that would help out most of the problem - biofuel.
We can develope it, make it, and burn it.
Cars today can burn biofuel - right now!
At first it might not look to "green", but is that really a BIG consideration?
Better methods will happen after you get it going full steam and the money starts pouring in.

By someguy123 on 9/15/2011 3:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
Going electric won't fix this problem. Current efficiency levels are just going to make things worse.

The fastest fix is to drill here, but environmentalists won't allow it, and no politician would be able to get away with pushing it even if they had the chutzpah.

By dusteater on 9/15/2011 2:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
The government has no business telling any auto maker what they can and cannot build. It's out of control.

RE: Bad
By johnsmith9875 on 9/15/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bad
By DFranch on 9/15/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bad
By Reclaimer77 on 9/15/2011 3:26:14 PM , Rating: 2
You're a moron. Airbags were researched and developed by automakers BEFORE they were made mandatory equipment. The rest of your argument is typical elitist Statist garbage; "all good comes from the Government"

RE: Bad
By ipay on 9/15/2011 5:22:36 PM , Rating: 2
Fuel-efficiency has always been researched by the automakers too. Not sure what your point was.

RE: Bad
By Keeir on 9/15/2011 7:20:00 PM , Rating: 2
His point, which is a valid one,

Government rarely significantly/effectively drives positive changes in the marketplace.

Consumer Demand drives changes effectively and efficiently.

In the case of Fuel Economy Standards,

CAFE targets the producers of automobiles... not the consumers of gasoline and as such will always be a terrible way to approach the problem.

CAFE is a blame-shift. Politicans get credit for more efficient cars and the Automakers get the blame for higher cost/lower quality cars.

RE: Bad
By Keeir on 9/15/2011 7:25:50 PM , Rating: 2
Errr... where is the second half?

Gasoline Taxes would be a very effective and efficient way to address the problem as they target all consumers of gasoline. However, this would cause people to blame the Government and praise the Automaker.

In the US's highly shifting republic, clearly its in the Politicians best interest to take credit, even if the end result is suboptimal and requires significant juggling behind the scenes. (Ensuring compliance to CAFE rules must be significantly more costly and difficult than simply having a 20% tax on gasoline purchases. CAFE also allows sheniagans like Ethanol, Electric, etc biases... good for the politicians pocket book)

RE: Bad
By smitty3268 on 9/15/2011 10:00:04 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I agree completely that gas taxes would be a far more effective way to reduce usage. However, that will never happen because any politician suggesting that would be immediately voted out of office. So, we are left with either CAFE or nothing.

All the OP was saying is that just because automakers were already researching airbags doesn't mean they would be commonplace today without the mandatory government interference. They could be one of those expensive options, like heated seats, that a lot of people get but others pass on. They could be pretty common, but left out of the most tiny subcompact cars. Or they could be everywhere, who knows. As long as car buyers ask what the MPG is when they buy cars, manufacturers are always going to compete on that front as well, so making a certain limit mandatory doesn't seem exceptionally different than the rule on airbags to me.

RE: Bad
By Keeir on 9/16/2011 2:15:08 PM , Rating: 3
Errr... its very different.

An Airbag, or any discrete safety regulation, is a usually an on/off regulation. This creates a fair and even playing field and relatively small market distortion.

But its worth noting that in the United States, only 2 front airbags are required, and in the United Kingdom, no airbag is required provided the car passes certain safety standards.

Yet the Nissan Versa Sedan, the cheapest new car I can think of, comes standard with 6! airbags. Far exceeding the US base requirement. Hmmm... how can that be? The Nissan Versa also far exceeds the US safety requirements in many key area... because it wants to score highly on publically availible safety tests which are funded by the Government and Private Insurance.

Yet again, in the case of Airbags, regulation does not seem to create a significant addition. Consumer demand for the safest cars drive even the most basic cars to exceed the current US requirements. The original laws were just an attempt to steal credit by politicians.

With CAFE its even murkier. CAFE attempts to regulate the types of cars consumed by fining the producers of said cars.

Face with CAFE and a country that wants to consume large cars, trucks, etc, I might be tempted to produce large numbers of cheap fuel efficient cars at nearly no profit a unit in order to allow me to sell large numbers of high demand cars for a large profit. This was the stradegy of nearly every US car company!

Thanks CAFE for bringing us the SUV/CUV! Thanks CAFE for making it more profitable to sell one SUV than 10 small cars! Thanks CAFE for making it undesirable to make a quality/expensive small car!

CAFE comes with a whole host of unintented consquences and doesn't really acchieve it fundamental purpose. It you can't do something good or helpful, it might be better to do nothing at all.

RE: Bad
By lagomorpha on 9/16/2011 5:30:57 PM , Rating: 2
Iirc airbags were originally developed by NASA who quickly decided they were a terrible idea and abandoned the idea. It was the government that mandated the front airbags that break children's necks more often than they save people and ignored the side curtain airbags that sometimes do prevent injuries. So yeah go government.

not even technically possible yet
By ebeneezersquid on 9/15/2011 1:15:31 PM , Rating: 2
By all means, Lets enforce a fuel efficiency standard that even the Prius doesn't meet.
Why not just pass a law making the sale of gasoline illegal and mandates everyone buy Nissan Leafs and Tesla Roadsters?
That and the fact that the EPA doesn't even know where the technology to even theoretically mean the new standards will come from, and GUESSES that they would add $2,375 to the cost of a car. How they can even guess how much an unknown technology can cost is unexplained.

RE: not even technically possible yet
By phantom505 on 9/15/11, Rating: -1
RE: not even technically possible yet
By lagomorpha on 9/16/2011 5:36:26 PM , Rating: 1
The 10% gain from direct injection was a miracle by itself. You can not get enough energy to get 54mpg from a midsized car from gasoline, there is simply not enough stored chemical energy even if we assume a 100% efficient engine.

By Targon on 9/17/2011 6:17:48 AM , Rating: 2
The big problem is that government expects that technology and improvements come on a linear and steady basis, and that just isn't how the universe works. It isn't about how much effort goes into solving a problem, or money, and ALL politicians are clueless, because they have never had to develop a product themselves.

Now, some advancements are the natural culmination of multiple other advancements, and not pushing for technology and more research across the board will only slow things down. I believe that EVENTUALLY we will see that sort of fuel economy, but pushing for those numbers in such a short period of time is the problem.

Here's an idea, suggest that the government cut pay to government workers by 5 percent each year without reducing the number of employees, because you can do that each year, right, and it is in the name of reducing the cost of government. See if that idea works, and then get back to the American people.

By rdhood on 9/16/2011 10:33:33 AM , Rating: 2
"We're picking and choosing what people are allowed to drive and not drive or purchase," Kelly warned.

Exactly. Democrats don't want ANYONE to drive. Seriously. They want you all on mass transit.. as if everyone lives in an area that can support it. They want you to stay within an EV driving distances from home/work/etc. Please ignore those vast expanses between major metropolitan areas. They are of no consequence or concern. If your proposed destination isn't within one EV round trip, you don't need to be there.

By Dr of crap on 9/16/2011 1:09:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yeap, it's all bout Dems against Reps. PLEASE!

Stop it.
It's not kindergarden anymore. Stop pointing fingers.
Get together and SOLVE PROBLEMS, don't blame the other side.
It shows the little kid in you, while the rest of us are grown ups.
And our congressmen are the worst at this!

It's all a sham
By bill4 on 9/15/2011 5:55:50 PM , Rating: 2
From what I read after all the "credits" manufacturers get, the real standard will be more like 40 MPG.

Which isn't good mind you, but sheds some light on the situation.

It's all a big slush fund for the auto corps, that's why they agree to it. The govt agreed to buy all the electrics they produce, for example.

Anyways by the looks of it after 2012 the EPA is going to be heavily neutered anyway. About time.

By BaronMatrix on 9/16/2011 12:28:36 PM , Rating: 2
You may all be crazy.

It's a different game
By lemonadesoda on 9/29/2011 6:47:13 PM , Rating: 2
Don't split hairs about CO2 emissions and cost of gas. It's all about Oil Politics. If you can become less dependent on foreign oil imports it will help you manage deficits and balance of payments. Better to produce the same or more CO2 from domestic sources but not be beholden to foreign political issues.

20 years plus, better to have a thriving economy of nuclear-electric cars than to be economically, politically and morally bankrupt due to Oil dependence.

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