Backtracking on fuel efficiency standards an ill-advised concept



August 21, 2018 - 10:47 AM

Open the spigots, tap the well, is the message from the Trump administration in regards to U.S. oil consumption.
U.S. production is so strong the need to conserve is over, our president says.
And yes, production is going great guns, between natural gas, shale oil, 10 years of hydraulic fracking as well as standard drilling operations.
Got a gas-guzzler? Pull up to the tank, urges EPA administrators in their effort to roll back what they view as cumbersome fuel efficiency standards.
Never mind that vehicles are the largest source of air pollution in the United States, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The Trump administration defends the war on emission standards by saying it will save 1,000 more lives per year.
How’s that?
Well, if you own a tank then you’re less apt to be out on the road because of the price of gasoline, they contend, whereas fuel-efficient cars encourage people to drive more. The more you’re on the road, the higher your chances of getting involved in a fatal accident.
Unfortunately, we’re not making this up.
Also, because fuel-efficiency models are lighter, their chances of survival against heavier and older gas-guzzling models are reduced if the two collide, continues the logic of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Of course, if all models were to trend lighter — the goal of previous administrations — that argument also would be laid to waste.
CENTRAL to the issue is the Trump administration’s denial that carbon emissions from cars and trucks negatively affect the air we breathe. With that as their premise, they aim to relax the country’s Clean Car Standards that work not only to reduce carbon emissions but also help keep U.S. cars and trucks competitive against the more fuel-efficient foreign models.
Even putting environmental concerns aside, the administration’s logic is off the mark: Americans will always want the best bang for their buck.
For the last three years gas has been relatively cheap. In Kansas, the average price per gallon is $2.65, up 21 percent from last year at this time. Even so, in the last 10 years, it’s bumped against $4 a gallon a handful of times, the most recent in 2012, according to the Energy Information Administration.
When the price of gas skyrocketed after the 2008 financial collapse, U.S. automakers were caught with their pants down. With only gas-guzzlers for sale they had to quickly retool and have worked ever since to not only reduce emissions but also gas consumption.
EVEN WITH oil production strong, it remains a finite resource and should be regarded as such.
If our goal is to be energy-independent, then we should be good stewards of our resources. To do otherwise is refusing to look future generations in the face.
— Susan Lynn


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