Are you paying $2.25 a gallon for gas? Do you expect to be paying this price for gas at any point in the next 10 years? I certainly hope not, or you’ll be pretty disappointed. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration is group of knuckleheads responsible for setting our vehicles fuel economy standards for the year 2020. The bare minimum is 35 mpg because of the EISA(Energy Security and Independence Act) passed by Congress last year. But 35 mpg by 2020 really isn’t trying too hard. The car I drive right now gets that, and it isn’t even a hybrid.
So the NHTSA decided to draft an environmental impact statement to determine what the new CAFE standards should be set to. In determining the cost-benefit analysis of the cost of producing more fuel efficient cars that would be passed onto the consumer vs. fuel savings, they determined the price of gas would be $2.25 a gallon in the year 2016. Let me know when you’ve stopped laughing.
Okay so besides that aspiration towards stupidity, they also determined the positive benefit of raising CAFE standards on climate change to be zero because they tried to determine the impact of cutting a little carbon in one sector of the US economy, obviously a smaller part of global emissions, and determined that 100 years from now this would have a negligible impact. Really? Duh! Obviously if you were going to measure ANY single action and the impact it would have on climate change 100 years from now, you’ll find reason to sit on your hands. Apparently the words collective action hasn’t resonated with NHTSA.
NHTSA held a hearing a couple of weeks ago to get public feedback on their plan. The feedback was pretty brutal on them, I attended the hearing, and was fortunate enough to give my own testimony 9th. Of the first 8 ppl, 7 of them completely ripped into the agency. I didn’t lighten up either, below is the testimony I delivered.
“Hi, my name’s Matt Dernoga, and I wanted to first thank the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for holding this hearing and allowing me to give my input on the critical decision of what our CAFE standards target should be set to for the upcoming decade and beyond.
It’s difficult to know where to begin, because I find all of this very perplexing. I find it perplexing that the NHTSA would aspire to only a mere 35 mpg by 2020, the bare minimum of what is required by the Energy Independence and Security Act. I am confused that American automakers would fight raising fuel economy standards given the dire fiscal situation they find themselves in as a direct result of their stubbornness. I don’t understand why the implications CAFE standards have on climate change do not appropriately affect the NHTSA’s decision making. Finally, I am baffled that our new CAFE standards are based on the presumption that the cost of a gallon of gas will only be $2.25 by 2016. I wonder if we are living on the same planet?
I’m going to hazard a guess that there have been hearings like this in the past. That years ago when the NHTSA was considering raising fuel economy standards, they decided against it based on the presumption that gas would the cheap for the opening decade of the 21st century. The NHTSAchose to assume the best, and failed to prepare America for the reality that awaited it. As a result, we have become more dependent on oil than ever before, exporting hundreds of billions of dollars overseas each year with some of it going to hostile countries. Our economy is sputtering since everything costs more as a result of high fuel prices. Businesses are having trouble staying afloat, truckers can no longer make a living, auto companies are posting billions of dollars in losses while cutting jobs, and food prices have risen because of shipping and production costs. Americans find themselves barely able to hold their heads above the rising tide.
The NHTSA is determined to respond to their mess by pushing our heads below that tide, and holding them there. The notion of $2.25 a gallon gas by 2016 is laughable, it’s a joke I could tell in a comedy club. There’s no way that anyone in this room actually thinks this will be the price. I’d be willing to bet anyone any amount that the price is higher. Would anyone here take that bet? The NHTSAis already gambling though. They’re gambling withthe future of our country. Planning our CAFE standards around the assumption of $2.25 a gallon of gas isn’t a game, it’s dangerous. You’re playing Russian Roulette withthe American economy. You’re holding a loaded gun to it’s head and pulling the trigger with the hope that it fires a blank. If you haven’t noticed, our economy, our infrastructure, our lives, and yes our cars are designed on the premise of cheap gas. That has to change, or we will face hardship many times greater than what we’re facing right now.
I know that we can meet higher CAFE standards than 31.6 mpg by 2015. I know this not only because of the NHTSA’s own analysis, but also because I know the strength, determination, and good will of the American people. It’s unnatural for us to aspire to meet only the bare minimum of what is required. That is not the American way. We do not reach for the ceiling, we reach for the stars.
The NHTSAneeds to weigh the risk of being wrong by doing too little versus the reward of doing too much. It also needs to examine it’s conscience and factor in the implications of climate change in it’s decision making. By undertaking those two simple tasks, I have faith that we can do something about CAFE that we have never done before. The right thing. Now or never is a false choice. If you love this country, and if you love your children, the time is now. Thank you. “