Sunday, August 14, 2011

King Barack declares that fuel efficiency will improve, or we will face his displeasure

Having failed in his quest to lower sea levels around the world, Barack Obama has declared that big rigs will get  better mileage. 

WASHINGTON--President Obama announced the first-ever fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for long-haul rigs, work trucks, and other heavy duty vehicles Tuesday, the second mileage pact with manufacturers in less than a month.

The regulations call for reductions on fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 2018 of 9 to 23 percent, depending on the type of vehicle. Trucks and other heavy vehicles make up only 4 percent of the domestic vehicle fleet, but given the distance they travel, the time they spend idling and their low fuel efficiency, they end up consuming about 20% of all vehicle fuel, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

These things always puzzle me.  If you're going to go into the business of improving efficiency by Imperial Decree, why stop at 23% ?  Why not declare that "I, King Barack Of Chicago, hereby mandate that all semi-tractors will reduce fuel consumption by 50%, or ye shall face my wrath."

Experts say that a 20 percent reduction in heavy vehicle emissions would boost fuel efficiency to an average of 8 miles per gallon from 6 miles now.

Precisely.  And if the driver could be replaced by the Walt Disney Animatronic Driver, payrolls and other transportation costs would be slashed by 25%.  If tires could be made of Mississippi mud instead of rubber, replacement costs would be lowered by 89%.  If we ever get that big engineering breakthrough, the one where they make diesel engines out of Play-Do, vehicles will be 23% cheaper.  And on and on and on.....

Ok, rather than Fisk the rest of this piece of White House Boosterism, which would become tiresome, I'm just going to highlight the individual words that I think are funniest.  If you have any understanding of how the world works and why auto companies are going along with this crap, and the concepts of "collusion" and "corporatism", you'll get it. 

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Obama and the country’s automakers unveiled new fuel economy rules for passenger vehicles that would boost fleet-wide average gas mileage to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, from about 27.8 miles per gallon now.

The success of the Obama fuel efficiency program (!!!!!!!), some of it hard-won through difficult talks with car makers, stands in sharp contrast to the failure of other environmental initiatives, like climate change legislation.

At a time when nearly all major corporate lobbying groups and the Republican Party insist that the administration’s environmental regulations destroy jobs, the auto makers, the United Auto Workers union and now truck and large engine manufacturers are collaborating on rules they think could create jobs. Most environmental groups also praised the new truck standards.

The automobile industry has been more cooperative with the government since the federal bailout of two major car makers, General Motors and Chrysler. It is also mollified by the fact that the new, 2025 auto rules have what critics consider loopholes that allow the carmakers to improve fuel efficiency on their most popular models at a slower pace.

Moreover, the new standards encourage car and truck makers to use off-the-shelf technology, some of which they have already deployed, rather than invest in scientific breakthroughs.

“We’d be able to meet the standards by reducing weight, using low rolling-resistance tires to cut down on drag, making vehicles more aerodynamic and have less idling: those are available in the U.S. now,” said Jed Mandel, president of the Engine Manufacturers Association, the truck and engine makers’ trade group. The federal government has “done a great job in allowing flexibility for truck makers to build vehicles.”

Sorry.  I've got to interject something here.  The Federal Government has no damn business "allowing flexibility" in anything that doesn't harm someone else.  Period.  They've done a great job in allowing flexibility.  They've done a great job in allowing flexibility.  They've done a great job in allowing flexibility.  That's another way of saying "As long as we behave in the way they like, they'll let us get away with a few things." 
We're a nation of sheep, bleating about how our Master allows us greater flexibility. 

The new standards would increase the cost of heavy duty trucks, which cost tens of thousands of dollars, by several thousand dollars each, depending on the vehicle. But the administration and the manufacturers’ group estimated that the higher costs would be recouped very quickly, often within a year or two, because of savings at the pump, one of the biggest expenses for any cargo or trucking business.

The administration estimated that businesses using big trucks could save about $50 billion in fuel costs over the program’s duration.

And in the meantime, competition is decreased.  Barriers to entry are erected.  Choice is eliminated.  Government and trade group alliances are strengthened. 

Mission accomplished.  And it doesn't have a damn thing to do with fuel economy or the environment. 

End of rant. 

The pic of Ozymandias came from here.  The posters came from Dan McCall's Facebook page. 


Nick said...

I love the Ozymandias quote. Im a big fan of The Watchmen.

When the government increased CAFE standards in the past, two rather unpleasant consequences presented.

First, people started DRIVING MORE. When you increase fuel efficiency, you decrease the cost per mile of driving. Now, all else wasnt equal - more desiable things started growing within a fuel tank's distance from people's houses. And all those new things emitted pollution and used energy. Efficiency may have contributed to some economic growth, but it was counterproductive for the environment and energy use.

Second, people started DYING. You see, in order to improve mileage, manufacturers started making vehicls lighter. All else equal, a lighter vehicle is less crashworthy.

To meet crash test standards, the vehicles incorporated crumple zones to absorb impact. While this design improved survivability, it also insured that just about any accident would result in a totalled vehicle.

Maintenance costs also increased. Metal was removed from such nonessential parts such as brake rotors. The first time you step on your brakes in your new car, youre likely already below the minimum standard for rotor thickness. Replacing rotors is costly

I got 55 mpg in my 1990 Geo Metro with its three cylinder engine. So we had the technology for this type of car 20 years ago. But the Metro was far from a commercial success and not quite safe. How are we going to get to an AVERAGE fleet fuel economy of 55 unless all vehicles in the fleet are Metro-like vehicles?

Electric vehicles could make sense if we had a reliable source of generation like, say nuclear power.

I love it when politicians pass laws to be implemented long after theyre out of office and perhaps even after theyre dead.

Tim Lebsack said...

"Intentions are not results" -- Don Boudreaux