NATIONAL OPINION: Higher mpg standards make overwhelming sense

By NEMS Daily Journal

With gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon this summer, everyone who drives can appreciate the beauty of vehicles designed to go twice as far on a tank of fuel than today’s models – including the people who build cars. Some ideas simply make too much sense to stir much controversy.
That’s why even the U.S. auto industry has embraced the new fuel efficiency standards issued by the Environmental Protection Agency last week. The rules will require all new cars and trucks to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, nearly double the fuel efficiency of the U.S. fleet in 2008.
All of which leads to one obvious question: Why are Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other leaders in his party opposing a requirement that future cars be more economical to operate, less harmful to the environment and designed in ways that reduce our nation’s dependence on Mideast oil?
Mr. Romney says he is against the new rules because they will make new cars more expensive to buy and because the EPA has no business telling automakers how to build their products.
And his solution to our dependence on oil suppliers in unstable regions of the world” Simply drill more at home, he says (remember “Drill, baby, drill”?) – even though increasing domestic production will never make America energy independent unless we also get serious about conservation.
Even if car prices rose by $2,000 to $3,000, officials estimate, drivers would come out ahead by about $8,000 in fuel savings by 2025.
The fact that Mr. Romney thinks none of this is important suggests he is either so wholly in the pockets of the oil and gas industry that he simply doesn’t care, or that his opposition to more fuel-efficient vehicles is driven completely by politics: If the Democrats proposed it, it must be bad. But protecting the environment, conserving energy and reducing our dependence on foreign oil aren’t partisan issues, and only someone with a breathtakingly shortsighted, cynical view of the nation’s needs could believe otherwise.
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