Senate votes to require improvement in vehicle mileage.

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.






  1. Eric Avatar

    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. Peter Kiermeier Avatar

    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.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan