Want Cleaner Air

Senate GOP defeats tough fuel efficiency – The Washington Times: Nation/Politics
If Congress really wanted cleaner air without a decline in safety, they could pass it tomorrow and have it phase in over five years. The engine technology already exists to make combustion engines nearly free of emissions (see here and here), thereby eliminating the need for the CAFE standards, the ethanol mandate and the mandate for other oxygenates. The only thing stopping them is politics.

Congress could simply mandate that refiners deliver low-sulfur gasoline and mandate that car companies use a technology that meets a near-zero emissions criteria, which already exists, but not specify which one, allowing innovation to continue. At least one alternative is already available so it is do-able if they have the political will.

They could also simplify life for the refiners by stripping away the extraneous requirements — such as ethanol — and focus the car companies on emission reductions instead of gas mileage. We already have a mechanism for controlling the gas mileage on cars — the price of gasoline. No other is needed.

An amendment offered by Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, would have required the automobile industry to build vehicles averaging 40 miles per gallon — nearly twice today’s mileage — by 2014. It also would have closed the “SUV loophole,” ending the exemption that popular sport utility vehicles enjoy from the federal Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards.

The Senate voted 65-32 against Mr. Durbin’s amendment.

During the daylong debate, Mr. Durbin insisted that “unless we show leadership, Detroit is going to make the most inefficient vehicles, put them on the highway, creating more pollution, more dependence on foreign oil, and ultimately destroying the environment of the Earth that we live on.”

“I don’t think I’m overstating the case,” Mr. Durbin added. “Not at all.”

He is indeed overstating the case by failing to consider alternatives. Low-sulfur gasoline and the right engine technology will solve the problem.

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