After 30 years of trying, the Senate has voted to raise the required fuel efficiency of American automobiles. In addition, the notorious SUV loophole was closed. The bill still must go to the House of Representatives.

Story in the LA Times.

Efforts to increase taxes on the oil industry failed due to a Republican filibuster. The industry has been raking in record profits due to the high price of gas, but not building new oil refineries (a guarantee that gas prices will remain high). The new oil taxes would have been used to subsidize the development of alternatives of wind, solar, and biofuels. As we have seen, there are substantial problems with wind and biofuels (especially corn ethanol), but the voters like the idea and the Republicans could take a beating for favoring oil companies over new energy alternatives.

Yes to CAFE boost, No to oil taxes. Grist Magazine. By David Roberts.

Note. I cover this issue because anything that reduces the need for fossil fuels reduces the threat the energy companies pose to the majesty of America’s West.

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

2 Responses to Senate votes to require improvement in vehicle mileage.

  1. avatar Eric says:

    It’s time to send at least an email to our representatives. Better fuel mileage can’t hurt what we want. I sound like a carmaker’s commercial but I think it’s reality. It’s hard to understand the consequences of our consumer culture. It spans beyond our lives just like the wilderness [did]….

  2. Better fuel mileage is certainly a good start. I have to admit, when I come to the US every other year, what car do I rent? Well, an SUV is not so bad. Why an SUV, well knowing it´s wrong, and I should not do it and we two don´t even need it! It´s that image / macho thing and GAS IS CHEAP (Yes, still, believe me). What car do I drive at home? Still a 2001 BMW 6-cylinder, not bad in mileage compared to a SUV but I´m thinking seriously about something with a better mileage. Why? Because GAS IS EXPENSIVE and almost 2/3rd´s of the price is taxes!
    When I go to the US every other year, and especially when going to the “West”, what do I prefer for dinner? Well, a steak is always a good choice! Why a steak every day, well knowing I should not do it? Besides the steaks are excellent (especially after a long days hike), it´s that image / macho thing again (hey, after all I´m a male in cowboy land and you don´t eat a salad for dinner here :-)) and STEAK IS CHEAP!!
    What do I eat back home? Our steaks here a quite acceptable also, but EXPENSIVE. Even if you would intend, you simply could not afford every day (At least you do not face that image / macho thing here)
    In other words: Better mileage is one factor, but at the end, always price (and taxes) are the true regulatory factors.

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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