From an editorial published Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times:
Theres nothing really new about the federal fuel economy standards that were finalized Tuesday they were announced more than a year ago and have changed little since but now that were on the verge of a presidential election, theyre generating more political heat.
Governor Romney opposes the extreme standards that President Obama has imposed, which will limit choices for American families, said Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul. The president tells voters that his regulations will save them thousands of dollars at the pump, but always forgets to mention that the savings will be wiped out by having to pay thousands of dollars more upfront.
Untrue in every particular. The new standards would be phased in from model year 2017 to 2025; by the end of that time, each automakers passenger vehicle fleet would average 54.5 miles per gallon. This wont limit vehicle choices there will still be four-wheel-drive pickups and other heavy vehicles, but they will be lighter and more fuel efficient and will have to be offset with more high-mileage alternatives.
Romneys price argument, meanwhile, is the sort of thing youd expect from a clueless rich guy. Most people finance such purchases, and the monthly savings on gas resulting from the new standards are expected to more than make up for a car buyers higher monthly payment.
Other Republican opponents of the Obama administrations fuel standards which represent the most important environmental achievement of the presidents first term contend theyll result in unsafe vehicles. In general, lighter vehicles are less safe, so thats not an unreasonable conclusion, but the full story is more complicated. The heaviest classes of vehicles will probably see the biggest weight reductions. That should help reduce fatalities.
Heres what we do know: Over the lifetime of the vehicles sold between 2017 and 2025, the new standards will save 4 billion barrels of oil and 2 billion metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions. Thats the biggest blow the nation has ever struck against climate change, and one of its most significant in reducing reliance on foreign oil. If Republicans somehow dont like that, their energy strategy might need a little work.