CAFE and Unintended Consequences. Guess which law wins?

The Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman writes that the new CAFE standards (35 miles per gallon by 2020 - about 12 short years away) won't do much good because folks like us will buy the more efficient vehicles and drive them more miles resulting in more congestion and fuel use. It is just our human nature to behave that way. The result will be little net reduction in the number that really counts - our gross use of non-renewable carbon-based fuel. Self defeating. Mr. Chapman prefers the ever unpopular Carbon Tax (CT) as the way to bite the bullet. With the CT, you are encouraged to both be more efficient AND use as little carbon as possible. Maybe that is not what you want to read but it is probably what Al Gore and the rest of us - all 6.6 billion of us - need.

I am beginning to agree. Carbon is carbon whether it comes from petroleum or coal or gas. Use carbon in excess and you damage the world for all of us. It is not a local phenomenon. Of course, if you don't use much carbon, by using renewable fuels or solar or wind or use a bike or telecommute, you won't pay very much CT. You can still get around. And if you don't get around by using electronics (telecommuting) but you use some carbon - as I am in writing this post - that will also include a CT. All in all, the effort to avoid paying CT will lead us to not only carbon efficient vehicles but to an overall carbon efficient way of life. (Note: For seven years, I drove 30,000 miles a year for my job in alternative fuels. That is 210,000 miles and 8,400 gallons of fuel - one full tanker truck just for me!)

There is still a problem. Advocating in Congress for a CT is political suicide right now. Remember however, that Washington was built on a drained swamp. When the Capital basement is flooded like New Orleans, I suspect the CT will be a whole lot more popular. Congress will even include a little extra in the CT. Why? To pay for pumping out their basement, of course.

[Source: The Week]

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