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President Obama wants to make gas guzzling vehicles go extinct with tough new CAFE rules.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) is concerned the bill could cost American jobs.  (Source: Rick Snyder via Flickr)

The standard could also lead to more crash deaths, as automakers say such standards lead to cuts in material density and safety features to save on weight. The resulting cars are more fragile.  (Source: Car Insurance Comparison)
Plan would save on pollution, oil costs, but could increase vehicle costs, job losses, and accident deaths

The debate over the next Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard (set to run from 2017 to 2025) has just begun, and the political posturing appears to be in full effect.  From Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood to Senators and governors, everyone was expressing vocal thoughts about the "rough draft" of standards that United States President Barack Obama's (D) advisors unveiled on Monday.

I. 56 MPG = Lost Jobs?

Given that much of America is still recovering from recession, the topic of job loss is a sensitive one for many Americans, and is a powerful phrase to invoke in rhetoric.

Governor Rick Snyder (R-Michigan), whose state is home to America's three biggest automakers, was among 14 governors who wrote a cautionary letter to the heads of the DOT and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), employing this phrase to its full effect.

They write:

If fuel economy standards are increased too quickly, resulting in more expensive vehicles, many consumers can be expected to hold onto their older vehicles longer and defer buying a new car, which could put auto jobs across the country at risk.

The letter does not specify whether the proposed 56.2 mpg standard counts as increasing fuel economy "too quickly", but the timing certainly make it seem like a criticism of the plan.  Governor Snyder points to estimates that the plan will add between $2,100 USD and $2,600 USD to the cost of a vehicle, on average.  He urges the government to adopt a "sensible" standard, but stopped short at saying what such a standard would be in mpg.

The White House apparently decided to take the letter as a compliment, with spokesman Matt Lehrich writing:

We appreciate the governors' support for a national fuel economy standard that will save American families money at the pump and keep the jobs of the future here in America, and we share their commitment to preserving affordability and consumer choice.

II. Mich. Sen. Levin (D) Expresses Mixed Feelings on Bill

Sen. Carl Levin (D- Michigan) sent a separate letter to the White House demanding information on what data they used to decided on the proposed CAFE numbers.  In an interview he states, "We want to know how they arrived at that starting point. We will get that information one way or another."

The Senator admits, though, that without an agreement on the standard, the solution might be even less appealing.  If an agreement is not put in place, states like California will likely look to enact their own guidelines.  While this might please some state rights advocates, it is something automakers oppose -- they prefer a national standard.  Sen. Levin also opposes such provisions, stating, "[States] should not be given a waiver [to set their own standards]."

But without a binding national agreement, the government may have a tough time stopping states from doing so.  Technically the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a federal entity, has to approve of states' plans and grant them waivers from national standards.  A 2007 Supreme Court ruling in the case Massachusetts v. EPA, (No. 05-1120) found that it was illegal for the EPA to obstruct states from implementing their own standards by refusing to grant waivers.  The message seems unequivocal -- the EPA must grant waivers if states want them.

Sen. Levin adds that he is "very concerned" about the prospect of lost sales and jobs from the proposal.

III. Ray LaHood Wants Standard to be Finalized by July

Whether or not the final draft of the standard contains compromises, such as a lower mpg target, Secretary LaHood wants it to be delivered to the EPA and DOT by the end of July.

Secretary LaHood was critical in finalizing the current CAFE standard, which will require automakers to reach 34.1 mpg by 2016.  That standard, first set into motion by departing President George W. Bush (R) and finalized by President Obama, is estimated to cost automakers $51.5B USD over its course.

The tricky part about the standards is that while they cost on the vehicle side, they force savings at the pump.  The current standards are estimated to cut 1.8 billion barrels of oil by 2016.  With oil currently at $94.77 USD/barrel, that's a savings of $170.6B USD.  Further, by cutting fossil fuel combustion, the bill reduces emissions of toxic nitrogen and sulfur-containing gases that have been linked conclusively to chronic conditions such as asthma.

On the other hand, the bill may have raised other costs, as it is thought to have made the average vehicle less safe, contributing to automotive fatalities.

More extreme elements of the environmentalist movement have criticized both the previous and the pending CAFE provisions as being too weak.

The DOT Secretary offered cautious optimism that a compromise will be reached, commenting, "Our people are very professional at this. I think we proved that with the last CAFE standard. We got it right because we had every car company standing in the Rose Garden with the president. We want to get it right this time.""



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RE: Car Sales
By kfonda on 6/30/2011 4:47:59 PM , Rating: 3
Amen!!!

I'm beginning to think we should just split the country in 2 and let everyone decide up front which half they want to live in (socialist or capitalist). After the initial decision everyone has to stay in the half they chose.


RE: Car Sales
By Breathless on 6/30/2011 8:44:59 PM , Rating: 2
I have been thinking this as well and would LOVE to see something like this. An experiment if you will.... I would be onboard and would pack my things immediately and move if I had to. Bring it on! "Left America" and "Right America" - split it right in two. Left America would have no God, no religion (other than atheism or possibly Islam since they would for some reason make an exception), no social classes (no one would make any more money than anyone else), and certainly no "corrupt corporations". They would legalize whatever drugs they wanted to and abortion would be celebrated - nay encouraged, as would homosexuality and eventually pedophilia (with the child's consent of course - whatever makes both of them 'happy'). Children would be encouraged to have premarital unprotected sex as early as they could be taught how to. Disease would be rampant. There would be no morality other than what the government dictated by its chosen officials. Criminals would have extremely short sentences universally, if they were ever jailed at all. It would only take about 2 or 3 generations for "Left America" to be bankrupt and immigrating back to "Right America" illegally and then subsequently begging for amnesty - all the while preaching the injustices of Right America.


RE: Car Sales
By Reclaimer77 on 6/30/2011 9:44:54 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I have been thinking this as well and would LOVE to see something like this. An experiment if you will....


It's already been done. It's called Canada, and nobody lives there.


RE: Car Sales
By Breathless on 6/30/2011 10:15:30 PM , Rating: 1
well then it needs to happen again, unfortunately. The communist / socialist mindset is overtaking our country faster than it can be controlled. What else can be done? Voting them out doesn't work when they are now becoming the majority - those that want to decimate our constitution and principles that our founders had that made us great and kept us from self destructing...


RE: Car Sales
By FITCamaro on 7/1/11, Rating: 0
RE: Car Sales
By The Raven on 7/1/2011 10:55:41 AM , Rating: 2
Hell, I'm half-Mexican and even I left CA! ;-)

Truth is that we used to have these things called states. Now it is just all controlled by the feds like some huge company like Google buying up the little guys. It makes me want to move to NH for the Free State Project. But MO is nice and is one of the most free states in the US. So I can hang and try to make MO more free.


RE: Car Sales
By YashBudini on 7/1/2011 10:03:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's also called Commifornia.

By whom? Those in states with the lowest literacy rates?


RE: Car Sales
By MrBungle123 on 7/1/2011 10:41:21 PM , Rating: 2
Oh you mean the "stupid" states run by fiscal conservatives that are sooo dumb that they actually believe:

Income - Expenses = Amount of money we can spend?

lol. Yeah thats gotta be the most moronic thing I've ever heard!

Commifornia's Income - Expenses + $19 Billion = Our budget for the year! Totally makes more sense!


RE: Car Sales
By dsx724 on 7/1/2011 10:57:12 PM , Rating: 2
Oh you mean those same conservative states that piggy back off the federal taxes that those liberal states contribute to the federal budget?

http://www.taxfoundation.org/UserFiles/Image/Blog/...

Pay you fair share and stop leaning on California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, Michigan, Connecticut, Delaware. If you actually paid your due instead of using your lobbyists/senators to rip off the "blue states".

Congratulations, your cash positive because you're stealing from someone else. Sorry to break your bubble of ignorance and artificial sense of facts.


RE: Car Sales
By YashBudini on 7/1/2011 11:51:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
lol. Yeah thats gotta be the most moronic thing I've ever heard!

Typical political extremist. You probably say that every time somebody says anything you disagree with. You think you win buy the argument by going all republican jihad on people.


RE: Car Sales
By troysavary on 7/1/2011 9:31:22 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry to burst your bubble, but Canada is more conservative than the US now.


RE: Car Sales
By Reclaimer77 on 7/1/2011 12:54:39 PM , Rating: 2
Sigh.. :( Yeah, maybe.


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