Gillibrand is smoking something

All this talk about medical marijuana, and now we find out Kirsten Gillibrand is smoking something.

Apparently she just took the position that the “corporate average fuel economy” (CAFE) for each car manufacturer in 10 years should be 60 mpg. If I’m not mistaken, there’s not a single car on the road in the US that gets 60 mpg. The Prius comes close, and the Insight is no longer being manufactured.

And she’s talking about 60 mpg being the average. That means some cars would have to do better than 60 mpg, and few cars would be viable if they did much worse than 50 mpg.

I don’t know what she’s smoking, but she’s smoking something, and it must be good. Maybe she was sitting in the garage too long with the engine running and the Carbon Monoxide went to her head.

CAFE is just plain stupid policy. Regulations like CAFE are not the real answer to raising fuel economy (which we should do). Take a look at Japan and Europe. They have no CAFE standards. But they use much less gasoline overall and fuel efficient cars are much more common. Gosh and golly gee whillickers, how do they do that?

Big gas taxes. Gas in Europe and Japan costs between $4.50 and $6 per gallon these days there, and their prices have been high for a long time. Our prices only recently got to $3/gallon, and just a few years ago were near $1/gallon. If gas cost $5/gallon consistently here in the US, people would drive more fuel-efficient cars. It’s that simple.

But let’s be very, very clear, I do not for one second support increased gas taxes unless there is a corresponding reduction in other taxes. If the typical driver does 12,000 miles a year at 25 mpg, that’s 480 gallons a year. A $2/gallon gas tax would cost that driver about $1000 a year. So we need to give the average person a $1000 reduction in taxes somewhere else — preferably in lower income taxes at the bottom of the scale.

Think about it. In this scenario, if you want to pay less taxes, now you have some choices. You can drive less (carpool, mass transit, etc.). You can drive slower (using less gas). You can get a more fuel-efficient car.

And if you don’t change your driving behavior, don’t come crying to me. You know what you have to do. I would be affected more by this since I drive about 20K miles a year, mostly for work and therefore unavoidable.

And if a lot of people change their behavior, we’ll have less revenue. But then again, we won’t have to waste money monkeying around with the Middle East anymore either.

5 comments to Gillibrand is smoking something

  • la la la I can't hear you

    Gillibrand’s plan calls to reach her goals in 10 years.

    It took us 10 years to put a man on the moon.

    We learned to develop a nuclear bomb in less time than that once we put our minds to it.

    Gillibrand’s goals are realistic and can be met. Without vision we achieve nothing. With vision we reach the moon.

    If we put our minds to solving the nations’ “addiction to oil” (Bush’s words) we can do so.

    If we don’t solve this problem when the oil runs out – do you know what happens when an addict can’t get their fix?

    It isn’t pretty.

  • Responding to Lisa M, I agree we need to reduce our oil consumption, as detailed in my post. CAFE is not the answer, again as detailed in my post. Lisa’s comment does not address the arguments I raised, but simply assumes a fantasy that we can do it if we just put our minds to it.

    Humanity has spent 100 years making the internal combustion engine more efficient. The government cannot just “poof” mandate 60 mpg. We’ll all be driving scooters.

    Whenever I see these CAFE EnviroNuts, I always wonder what they drive. Usually something that gets less than 20 mpg. And for the record, I drive a 4-cylinder Audi A4 wagon with a stick, averaging just over 26 mpg for the life of the car. I chose the stick because it cost $1200 less, gets 2 mpg better mileage, and drives like it has an extra 50 hp (the 4 cylinder with stick does 0-60 about the same as the 6 with auto).

  • Albany Lawyer, you seem to hate CAFE regualtions and other other beurocratic mandates, saying what should be done instead is raise the cost of gasoline as high as $6 per gallon. I’d like to know where you think that would put the USA 10 years from now:

    Would some americans be forced to abandon their cars?

    What would the average efficiency be?

  • $6/gallon gasoline would very clearly lead to more fuel-efficient cars in the US, dramatically more efficient. All you have to do is look at Europe and Japan to see what they drive.

    I can’t put a number on average efficiency. I can only say that CAFE only affects new cars. Those who currently own inefficient cars would likely hold onto them longer. We saw this in California for decades after they imposed more stringent emissions standards – people held onto the cars that predated the requirements.

    While CAFE only affects new cars, higher gas prices affects all cars, giving the owners an incentive to either get more fuel efficient cars, drive in a more fuel efficient manner, or drive less.

    As for the fear that some will be “forced” (I don’t really agree with this term) to abandon their cars, let’s try to grasp reality for a moment. If you drive 15000 miles per year and get 20 mpg, that’s 750 gallons. At $3/gallon, it costs $2250. At $6/gallon, it adds $2250.

    For someone making $50K/year, that’s significant, but it will not make you abandon your car. For someone making $20K/year, yes, that may be enough to cause trouble. But if either person gets a car that gets 35 mph (the new Honda Civic for example, which is not that expensive, and there are many used cars that are comparable) and reduces driving to 12K/year, that’s 342 gallons. Total cost is now less at under $2100. This is how higher fuel prices can persuade us to become more efficient.

    And by the way, I drive a 4 cylinder with a stickshift and have averaged 26 mpg over the life of my car. For anyone else who comments, I hope you’ll tell us. My neighbor who drives V8s was ranting about global warming a few weeks ago. The V8s damage his credibility.

  • > For someone making $20K/year,
    > yes, that may be enough to
    > cause trouble.

    Agreed. Also note that 20K represents an hourly pay of $10. With the minimimum wage being recently jacked up to its all-time high of $6.75. With poor job growth, many in New York “lucky enough” to be employed would be stuck at $13,500.

    If an apartment in Albany cost $600 a month (including utilities), that translates to $7,200 per year. That leaves $6,300 left. Yes, what you read is true. In order to drive you’d have to stop eating.

    So of course the car would be abandoned.

    (Posted Oct.19)