Focus Point - CaféCommentary by Pete du Pont
December 17, 2001
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. There are politicians and environmentalists who want to extend the corporate average fuel economy - or café - program, in which the government sets the minimum average mileage requirement for each car maker's fleet.
But economists say it doesn't do a good job of cutting fuel consumption.
First, better gas mileage encourages people to drive more. If you want people to reduce emissions, the point is to get them to drive less - not put them in vehicles that are so efficient they think nothing of driving them more or buy bigger cars that get the same mileage.
Also, regulating new vehicle mileage doesn't have much effect on gas consumption because an increase in fuel efficiency requirements doesn't show up for years on the road. And in the process, as has been documented repeatedly, café standards caused auto makers to build lighter, less safe cars that lead to increased injuries and fatalities.
There's nothing wrong with making cars cleaner - we've already done it. But let the market take care of fuel efficiency. Government regulation doesn't work as well.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, the tribunals.