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Halfway to the CAFE

It would be lovely if, when we passed certain rules and regulations, we had procedures in place to review their performance and effectiveness. Today, we sit at the halfway point between the issuance of new CAFE standards as part of the 2009 “Stimulus” package, and the year 2025, the target date for new vehicle fuel economy standards. Remember, the  “law” said that the average fuel economy of the new vehicle fleet should be 54 miles per gallon just 8 more years from now.

  • How close to that goal have we gotten in the 8 years since the legislation was written?
  • Have we evaluated whether or not the CAFE legislation has led to other outcomes not intended by the program?
  • What has been the cost of achieving the CAFE improvements to realize fuel savings (and emissions?) goals relative to other ways of doing it.

Of course, economists have and continue to study these questions. Have the policymakers done it? I’d love to see the Congressional review of this.

(EDIT: note as evidence that I have totally absconded from the news circus, I had missed this when putting the foregoing sentences together).

You’ll notice that the Department of Transportation doesn’t report the ACTUAL data. After digging around on the EPA site, we find this: in 2015, CAFE for actual cars sold was 24.8 miles per gallon. The EPA gleefully cites this as a 5.5mpg improvement since 2004. Well, suppose we double that pace, that gets us to 35 mpg by the year 2028, only 19 mpg short of the goal and 3 years late.

I am sure there will be a lot of accountability when the program does not meet its goals. Lest you think this is harmless symbolism, please do go find the auto workers who lost jobs due to the increased tenure in used cars this creates, and please do find us the families struggling to make their car payments, or all of the people who end up … well, enough for now.

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