A tribute to Condoleeza Rice and George W. Bush who, despite voluminious evidence to the contrary, said, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile," adding that "even in retrospect" there was "nothing" to suggest that" and "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," respectively.

Friday, December 09, 2005

cui bono? (Who Benefits?) 

Are EPA’s Mileage Estimates An End-Run Around Government Mandated Fleet Mileage Requirements?

Last night, ABC News ran a story about how the EPA mileage estimates for hybrid cars falls well short of the mileage realized by drivers in the real world. This same issue was dealt with nearly a year and a half ago by John Gartner in his article Hybrid Mileage Comes Up Short.

ABC reported than one such hybrid vehicle is rated at 60 miles per gallon but actually delivers 35 miles per gallon in real life conditions. Now, this got me to thinking, “How could the estimates be so far off?” This isn’t a minor difference; it’s like buying a pound of butter that’s 9.28 ounces. Supposedly, the differences are attributed to the EPA’s testing method using lab conditions and not actually directly measuring fuel consumption, a method which they’ve been using for the last 19 years. Let’s see, 19 years ago, that would put Reagan in office.

Virginia Postrel’s article in 2001, titled Setting fuel-efficiency targets for vehicle fleets makes little sense, notes the following:

Under the complex CAFE system, the federal government sets a minimum average mileage requirement for each manufacturer's fleet. Domestic and imported cars are averaged separately, and automakers that do better than the mandate, often because they make mostly small cars, can save credits for future use. Toyota and Honda used these credits when they introduced their luxury lines.

The federal government has imposed fuel efficiency standards on the auto industry not based on individual vehicles, but instead, how their fleet of vehicles performs mileage wise. So, does anyone benefit from these exaggerated estimates? Certainly not the consumer. But, what is the effect overall for the auto industry? Is compliance based on just more flawed research. Note: These requirements were fully in force when Reagan came into office in 1981 and shortly thereafter, these testing procedures were adopted.

All this prompts the following questions”

Is this discrepancy the result of flawed testing or is it the EPA’s way of helping the auto industry comply with fleet mileage requirements for its cars under the CAFE system.

What testing procedure did the EPA use prior to the current (inaccurate) method and was it more realistic than what we have here.

What prompted the EPA to use this testing procedure? Was there pressure from the industry or White House to do so?

If more accurate mileage ratings were used, would the fleets of the major auto manufacturers comply with the CAFE requirements?

Would the EPA put forth false information to protect business interests? Ask the workers at “ground zero!”

Have all the lies made me more cynical?

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