May 22, 2009President Obama unveiled Tuesday a plan to sharply increase federal gas mileage rules for vehicles sold in the United States, eventually bringing the requirement up to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon. Unfortunately, these rules – known as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards – have the deadly effect of causing new cars to be lighter, smaller and less crashworthy.
CAFE is among the deadliest government regulations we have, and with today’s announcement it’s going to get even deadlier. It kills consumers by reducing vehicle size, and now it may well kill car companies by forcing them to produce cars that consumers don’t want. The only redeeming aspect of the President’s announcement is that there’ll be only one standard imposed on the industry, rather both national and California standards. But that just means carmakers...
February 5, 2009
President Obama today announced that he is pressuring the Department of Energy (DoE) to speed up some long-delayed efficiency standards for appliances. His move is being applauded by environmentalists—no surprise there. And DoE itself will almost certainly proclaim that the new standards will give us better appliances in the future; they might cost more, but they'll supposedly save us money in the long run.
Don't believe it. Here are some examples of how DoE efficiency mandates have produced, or will produce, fiascoes rather than progress:
- In 2007, higher efficiency standards for top-loading washing machines ruined the cleaning ability of many models, according to Consumer Reports...
January 27, 2009Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly declared "There is a great exhalation of breath going on in the world as people express their appreciation for the new direction that's being set and the team that is put together by the president." That's a cute contrast to President Bill Clinton's claim that he "didn't inhale." Different context, perhaps, but it is change.
January 20, 2009
So is that what Bush's much bally-hooed failure to curb CO2 emissions produced in the way of climate change—a Inauguration Day for Obama that's eight degrees colder than Bush's inauguration eight years ago? Shouldn't more CO2 mean warming, not cooling?
Well, as I said in my earlier post today, this is not scientifically significant. But it is funny.
It's also in line with the lack of...
January 20, 2009When President Bush leaves office today, will the capital be warmer or colder than when he was sworn in eight years ago?
It's not scientifically meaningful, but it is interesting.
Bush has been heavily criticized for doing precious little to curb our emissions of carbon dioxide. During his eight years in office, atmospheric CO2 levels climbed by over four percent.
So what did Bush's dilly-dallying produce in terms of deadly global warming? The temperature at noon in Washington DC will give us one factoid. It's a scientifically meaningless factoid, since the local temperature on any one day, let alone any one hour, tells us nothing about long-term temperature trends, but it's heavy in symbolism.
When Bush was first sworn in, in 2001, the temperature at noon in DC was...
January 12, 2009What does Chevron think of Vladimir Putin's recent cut-off of Russian gas to the Ukraine and beyond? Looking at their recent ad campaign, it seems they should applaud him.
August 25, 2008
Will gas prices keep dropping? A recent drive I took ended with a very strange coincidence. If I were superstitious, I'd regard it as a sign that we're in for cheaper gas.
Two weekends ago we drove our daughter to college in central Virginia. As we started heading out, I noticed that regular at the neighborhood gas station had dropped to $3.65. That was nice, since the price had been above $3.80 only days before.
We got off I-66 at Gainesville, which two years ago had been ...
April 29, 2008
Cellulosic ethanol—derived from wood scraps and other forms of inedible plant mass-- may or may not turn out to be a real technological breakthrough. On the one hand, it could reduce the ruinous impacts of grain-based ethanol on food prices. On the other hand, the extensive set of federal mandates and subsidies for cellulosic ethanol is not a good omen—good technologies rarely need federal help, and the existence of federal aid is often a tip-off that a new technology is a loser.
Regarldess of whether you believe it's a crisis or not, it's called Global Warming, not California WarmingNovember 8, 2007California this week sued EPA for failing to grant it a waiver, under the Clean Air Act, that would allow the state to impose its own greenhouse gas emissions rules on new cars. If California succeeds in imposing its own super-stringent emission rules on cars, it will have no measurable effect whatsoever on future temperatures, whether measured globally or statewide. It will, however, have a disastrous impact on California consumers, and perhaps on the rest of the American public.
California also recently sued the auto industry, demanding monetary damages for the fact that its cars emit carbon dioxide. The state lost that case. Hopefully, it will lose this one as well.
September 13, 2007At my temple last night the rabbi's sermon started off beautifully, examining Rosh Hashanah as the birthday of the world. But it quickly turned into a "go green" lecture: global warming, wasteful consumption, the need to conserve energy, etc. etc. As the sermon went on and on, I turned to my daughter and suggested that, in order to actually conserve some energy, we find the light switches for the temple and turn them off. Her response: "And the mike too."