Congressional Democrats' Christmas gift for U.S. automakers.
The net effect of the new CAFE standards therefore will be to thwart consumer desire as carmakers are forced to overhaul their product lines to emphasize either smaller cars or large hybrid-engine vehicles that, on average, cost $5,000 more than the nonhybrid versions. Jesse Toprak, an auto analyst with Edmunds.com, maintains the 35 mpg mandate is so onerous that large, gas-powered SUVs might well go the way of the dinosaur--despite their popularity and superior safety record.
But will this sacrifice curb climate change? Not really. John Christy, University of Alabama climatologist, maintains that even if the entire world adopted a fuel efficiency standard of 45 mpg, "the net effect would reduce projected warming by about 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100."
John Dingell bought time for U.S. automakers endangered by the quixotic crusades of climate warriors--but he won't live forever. Their fate will remain precarious, unless cooler heads--or cooler air--prevails.
Henry Payne is a freelance writer and an editorial cartoonist at the Detroit News; Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles-based, free market think tank.