Monday, January 05, 2004

Bad headline alert 

"Benefit of fuel economy increase limited."

I happen to think that Corporate Average Fuel Economy (known obviously, yet idiotically, as CAFE) standards are bad policy, and it is fairly clear that the editors of the Washington Times agree with me. Unfortunately, the story doesn't fit the headline in the least, to wit: "The Congressional Budget Office said Monday that an increase in fuel economy standards for automobiles would raise vehicle prices $228 and reduce gas consumption by 10 percent." While technically "limited" (what benefit is unlimited?), this strikes me as an extremely cost-effective improvement, notwithstanding the negative implication of the headline.

I figure that my fairly average family (OK, it isn't average in most respects, but we have five people, and three drivers, so it must be close to the typical New Jersey suburban standard) burns up about 700 gallons of gasoline per car per year. Were new standards in force, at our rate of use we could spend $228 more to achieve a savings of 70 gallons per year. Assuming that I keep each car five years, I am spending less than $50 per year to save about $100 per year in gasoline expense, even at the incredibly cheap prices that prevail in New Jersey. Seems like an easy decision to me, assuming that the data are good: where else can you earn 100% on your money, risk free?


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