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New CAFE regulations proposed

New CAFE regulations proposed

Responding to high national gas prices, the Bush administration proposed slightly stricter corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) regulations. The new gas mileage numbers would raise the current CAFE from 21mpg for light trucks to 22.5mpg in the 2007 model year. The current proposal leaves a Hummer loophole because vehicles that weigh as much as the Hummer H2 are not classified as light trucks, so they would not be affected. But 40 percent of vehicles in America fall in the light-truck category, such as the best-selling Ford F150, which gets 15mpg city/19mpg highway in its 4.6-liter, two-wheel-drive version. The new regulations would also push for a light-truck CAFE of 23.5mpg by 2010.

Environmental groups think this proposal is weak. I think it's too little, too late. A couple of years ago, the Senate debated stricter CAFE regulations, and Senator Trent Lott, before he fell from grace, waved a model of an economy car in the air and orated about how stricter CAFE limits would force all Americans into tiny cars. Well, if the Senate had taken action back then, we might not be paying such high amounts at the pump. Although I heartily approve of U.S. automakers working on fuel-cell technology, they should also work on tech to improve the immediate mileage of their vehicles. The aforementioned F150 pumps out 11.5 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, which puts it on the bad end of a scale that goes from 15.3 to 3.1 annual tons. Come on, people, we're smart. We should be able to figure out how to make our engines more efficient.

By the way, if you like stats, check out the Department of Energy's Fuel Economy Web site, which lists every production car, its EPA mileage, and the number of pollutants it produces.