Obama’s Five-percent Folly


The Obama administration Tuesday issued final rules requiring U.S. automakers to increase their fleets’ average fuel economy by five percent a year to meet a federally mandated 35.5 mpg by 2016. (American pants makers will also be required to sell slacks with an average waste size of 32 by 2016 and home builders will be required to sell homes averaging 1,500 square feet. Just kidding. . . but what’s the difference?)

In so doing, Washington Democrats checked yet another box on their road towards European market socialism by adopting the European Union model of a national standard in which emission levels are measured by carbon output. That is, the 35.5 mpg standard will be calculated as 250 grams of carbon dioxide produced per mile (250 g/mi. — or 174 g/km).

Europe’s own futility at trying to increase fuel efficiency by 40 percent (to 51.5 mpg, or 120 g/km) over 17 years — small potatoes compared with the 40 percent in eight years the Obama administration has decreed — should be a monitory lesson for Washington’s magic-wand-waving bureaucrats.

Indeed, ten years after implementing its 40-in-17 goal in 1995, the European Union fleet’s fuel economy had risen only 13 percent (from 186 g/km to 163 g/km in 2004) — or a little better than one percent a year, and that despite EU gas prices averaging over $6 a gallon.

Committed to this folly, Washington will — as the EU was forced to do in late 2007 — save face by crafting ever more opaque clauses and loopholes in the law as well as burning up billions in federal loans and credits to subsidize automakers to build cars consumers don’t want.

All to meet an arbitrary mileage number to solve a nonexistent climate problem.


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