CAFE and Policy Resistance

In 2011, the White House announced big increases in CAFE fuel economy standards. The result has been counterintuitive. But before looking at the outcome, let me correct a misconception. The chart above refers to the “fleetwide average” – but this is the new vehicle fleetwide average, not the average of vehicles on the road. Of … Continue reading “CAFE and Policy Resistance”

Drinking too much CAFE?

The NHTSA and EPA have announced upgraded vehicle efficiency and emissions standards. The CAFE standard will go up to 35.5 mpg by 2016, and a 250 gCO2/mile emissions limit will be phased in by the same time. My bottom line: I strongly favor efficient, low-emissions vehicles, but I think command and control legislation is a … Continue reading “Drinking too much CAFE?”

Lake Mead and incentives

Since I wrote about Lake Mead ten years ago (1 2 3), things have not improved. It’s down to 1068 feet, holding fairly steady after a brief boost in the wet year 2011-12. The Reclamation outlook has it losing another 60 feet in the next two years. The stabilization has a lot to do with … Continue reading “Lake Mead and incentives”

Tax time

It’s time* for environmentalists (and everyone else) to give up on a myriad of second-best regulatory policies and push for a simple emissions price (i.e. a carbon tax). The latest reason: green subsidies are unraveling under adverse energy market conditions. There are many others: It’s hard to design an emissions market that works well on … Continue reading “Tax time”

The alien Hail Mary, and other climate policy plays

Cap & Trade is suspended in Europe and dead in the US, and the techno delusion may not be far behind. Some strange bedfellows have lined up behind the idea of R&D-driven climate policy. But now it appears that clean energy research is not a bipartisan no-brainer after all. Energy committee member Rand Paul’s bill … Continue reading “The alien Hail Mary, and other climate policy plays”

Fuel economy makeover

The EPA is working on new fuel economy window stickers for cars (you can vote on alternatives). I like this one: hoisted from the comments at jalopnik There are some things to like about the possible new version. For example, it indicates fuel economy on an absolute scale, so that there’s no implicit allocation of … Continue reading “Fuel economy makeover”

Cash for Clunkers Illusion

The proposed cash-for-clunkers program strikes me as yet another marginally effective policy that coulda been a contenda. In the aggregate, getting rid of clunkers doesn’t do much good, because fleet fuel economy has not improved in the last decade (at least current proposals don’t target age). Only transaction costs prevent wholesale shuffling of vehicles to … Continue reading “Cash for Clunkers Illusion”