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February 11, 2008

Are CAFEs low on gas?

Congress just raised the fuel efficiency standards that auto manufacturers must meet for their newly built cars and trucks. These standards, called CAFE, which is short for Corporate Average Fuel Economy, are meant to reduce our use of gasoline. But there's considerable controversy over the impact of these standards. Just how are the battle lines drawn? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"The pro CAFE folks say these standards are needed in order to prod auto manufacturers into making more fuel-efficient vehicles and to motivate drivers to buy them. In other words, they are saying that without these standards, we wouldn't get increases in fuel efficiency. So you need the government to say, 'Look, you've got to do this, you've got to meet these standards.' And that's the way to getting our fuel efficiency up. And the pro-CAFE folks say that there are big benefits to the environment and to national security from higher fuel efficiency and, therefore, using less gasoline.

"Now, on the other side of the coin, you have some doubters. And the doubters make two points. They first of all ask if greater fuel efficiency will just motivate people to drive more miles. So they are going to end up using the same or maybe even more gasoline. And then secondly, the doubters ask how is the greater fuel efficiency going to be achieved? If it is achieved, for example, by reducing the weight of the vehicle perhaps this might also reduce safety in riding in vehicles. So this is where the battle lines are drawn, and this is going to be a continuing debate."

Posted by Dave at February 11, 2008 08:38 AM