Ex-DOT head urges Washington to 'treat diesels fairly'

Now that he's retired, Norman Mineta – the longest serving U.S. Transportation Secretary in history – is publicly speaking the kind of plain sense you don't much get from sitting politicians. Or, at least, he's taking the credit and the heat for it. Mineta released a white paper at a National Press Club that presented the position of the U.S. Coalition for Advanced Diesel Cars, a group founded in 2009.

The paper title is a clear enough indicator of the lengthy points made: "The Case for Technology Neutral Public Policy in Fuel Economy Debate: Allowing Performance To Determine Solutions." Mineta asks that, instead of the government choosing which technologies it thinks are superior and supporting them with taxpayer dollars, in this case EVs and plug-in hybrids, that it take a technology-neutral approach and allow each technology and mass-market adoption decide where fiscal resources should be placed.

Among other things, the paper argues that high-efficiency gasoline and diesel engines are within 15 percent of the performance of EVs and hybrids, and that they are the most effective way to lower emissions in the near- and medium-term. As well, the Administration's preference for battery-assisted vehicles is taking R&D money away from potentially better solutions, taxpayer money should be used to subsidize technologies for so little return and – surprise – the CAFE measurement methodology is outdated.

Mineta met current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to discuss diesels, but it would be shocking to imagine the administration would walk back from the initiatives its been pushing almost since it took office.

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