CAFE

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Host intro: Last summer's outcry over high gas prices led briefly to calls for repealing a 4.3 percent gasoline tax. But Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis says few people discussed reforming a government policy that could save up to 40 percent on gas costs.

Congress the CAFE standards -- corporate average fuel economy -- in 1975, when were still shaky from the 1973 oil embargo. CAFE mandated higher gas mileage and threatened fines for carmakers who didn't comply. The feds haven't seen any reason to raise the standards since 1985.

But now environmentalists and self-appointed consumer watchdogs want to raise standards to lower pollution, reduce dependence on foreign energy and cut --their words -- our addiction to oil.

But CAFE hasn't reduced our imports. They've increased since CAFE was passed.

CAFE's environmental impact has been slight, since cars and light trucks make up on a percent and a half of all man-made greenhouse emissions.

CAFE standards, according to one major study, had little to do with the increase in miles per gallon.

Worse, CAFE -mandated lighter cars have cost an extra 2,000-4,000 highway deaths a year.

And perversely, CAFE encourages driving, because each mile traveled becomes relatively cheaper for the driver. Increasing CAFE standards would mean more driving, hence, greater emissions and more fuel use.

Cafe is a relic of the '70s that should be forgotten, not strengthened. We don't need the regulations, and we don't need grief. CAFE is unwise at any speed.

Those are my ideas. And at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont and I'll see you tomorrow.

Host outro: Tomorrow, Pete du Pont stays on the road with the unhappy story of the electric car.