CATO Institute writers suggest (no surprise) ditching CAFE standards

While the idea of eliminating CAFE standards may strike you as unusual, the idea that Libertarians are against regulation really shouldn't. This is what Libertarians are know for, no? So, let's just keep that in mind as we check out a new column published today by Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren (of the Cato Institute) in Automotive News (subs req'd). The title of the article: "Don't raise CAFE standards; ditch them."
Read the full thing if you have your AN subscription. If you don't, I'll offer up some highlights:
  • "Congress has no business dictating automotive fuel efficiency. That's a job for consumers, not vote-hustling politicians. There are no problems for CAFE standards to solve. Hence, they shouldn't be tightened; they should be repealed."
  • "Increasing CAFE standards will not reduce the amount of pollution coming from U.S. autos. That's because we regulate emissions per mile traveled, not per gallon of gasoline burned. Improvements in fuel efficiency may reduce the cost of driving and thus increase vehicle miles traveled. Moreover, automakers have an incentive to offset the costs associated with improving fuel efficiency by spending less to comply with federal pollution standards."
Taylor and Van Doren also pooh-pooh the supposed connection between fuel conservation and foreign terrorism and the idea that higher CAFE standards will help secure our energy independence.

I'll admit I'm mostly ignorant about Libertarian ideology. For some reason, I imagine their perfect world is a lawless one where everyone stays holed up in their own home, guarding their food piles from roving bands of marauders (I realize this might be slightly exaggerated). And, as much as I disagree with him on a lot of issues, I assume James Woolsey and his ilk are pretty well-informed about how terrorist groups get their funding. I also think the idea that there should be no regulation of tailpipe emissions or of how much fuel our cars drink is hogwash. But what's your response? With all the talk of increasing CAFE, are Taylor and Van Doren just trying to attract attention by being contrarian or are they right on the money? The floor is yours.

[Source: Automotive News]

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