NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 23, 2007

Since Democrats took control of Congress in January, Washington has targeted automobiles to reduce the alleged threats of energy dependence and global warming.  So far, solutions have centered on European ideas -- increased government fuel economy mandates and gas taxes -- to force Americans into smaller vehicles, says the Detroit News.

If Europe is the future, have Democratic goals been achieved?  The answer is decidedly no:

  • Europe's major economies are still more than 90 percent dependent on foreign oil and well short of their fuel economy goals as European buyers demand bigger vehicles.
  • Makers of small cars like Renault are near the goal, while larger carmakers like Audi are off 25 percent.
  • Europe is missing its targets because even with $7-a-gallon gas (bolstered by a $3-a-gallon gas tax in France and similarly high taxes elsewhere), European Commission bureaucrats cannot control consumer tastes.


  • The European transport sector's carbon dioxide emissions have increased 26 percent since 1990, while total greenhouse emissions are rising despite a commitment to Kyoto reductions of 8 percent below 1990 levels.
  • In the United States -- despite congressional rules mandating a doubling of vehicle gas mileage since 1975 -- our oil imports have grown from 35 percent of consumption to 52 percent.

What is the goal of toughening auto regulations that have failed on both sides of the Atlantic?  The answer is simply the perpetuation of bureaucratic power, says the News.

Source: Henry Payne, "Europe's test run proves fuel rule hike would flop," Detroit News, August 23, 2007.


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