- Because cars and trucks will get better
mileage, the cost of driving would be cheaper — so people may drive
more. A 2007 analysis by University of California-Irvine researchers
U.S. fuel-efficiency improvements from 2000 through 2004 led Americans to drive 6% more miles.
- The Obama administration says cars and trucks
will cost an average of $1,300 more under the plan. That means drivers
may keep their old, less-efficient vehicles longer. A 2009
Stanford University analysis found that 20% of the emissions reductions made by raising fuel standards are offset by people who hang onto their gas guzzlers.
"This approach ... doesn't necessarily produce as much (of a reduction) as we think," said economist Robert Stavins of
Still, it is worth doing, says Stanford University economist Lawrence Goulder. "I don't think one should let the perfect be the enemy of the good here," Goulder said. "When you account for the political realities, this is a major step forward." ...
Economists say a gasoline tax, though politically unpalatable, would be far more cost-effective in slashing gas use and global-warming pollution.
A gas tax gives drivers a big incentive to buy more efficient vehicles, says economist Kenneth Small of the University of California-Irvine. And it encourages people to keep the car or minivan parked in the driveway, because drivers pay a premium for every mile they drive.
When fuel-efficiency standards are raised, though, "The incentive is for consumers and companies to look for a way around" them, Small said.