Why is George Will against fuel efficiency?

By SANDY MOSER, president of REP’s Pennsylvania Chapter

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: published in the West Chester (PA) Daily Local News on January 17, 2008


We have candidate Mitt Romney blasting Congress’s recent approval to increase auto fuel mileage as he campaigns through Michigan.

And now George Will criticizing it in his column (“Republicans face political quandary,” January 13, 2008.)

As a conservation-minded Republican organization, the Pennsylvania Chapter of Republicans for Environmental Protection is very concerned about our nation’s long-term energy security. We strongly supported the energy legislation that increases automobile fuel efficiency as it moved through Congress last year.

Strengthening motor vehicle fuel economy standards by increasing the number of miles per gallon for cars and light trucks was the single most important step that Congress could take to reduce America’s dangerous oil addiction and to give Americans lasting relief from high gasoline prices.

Why do Romney and Will oppose increasing the fuel standards to 35 mpg by 2019? The technology is available now to manufacture safe, desirable cars and light trucks that are far more fuel-efficient. Fuel efficient vehicles will save Pennsylvania drivers money. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) projects that Pennsylvania consumers will save $530 million with the new fuel economy standards by 2019. And that estimate was based on an average gasoline price of $2 per gallon. There are very few places in Pennsylvania where gas is under $3.

These economic benefits could be returned to the state’s economy, creating new jobs and spurring economic growth. UCS estimates that Pennsylvania would see a net gain of 9,900 jobs. If Pennsylvania doesn’t reduce vehicle pollution, industrial sources will have to bear a disproportionate share of the responsibility for meeting federal clean-air requirements in as many as 37 Pennsylvania counties. That could cost jobs and hurt our economy. New businesses could face steeper environmental hurdles to locating here.

All but one of Pennsylvania’s Republican Congressmen voted for fuel efficient vehicles, and President George Bush signed this bill into law. We can guess why Governor Romney is speaking out against the bill as he campaigns in Michigan. He’s courting the auto industry that pressed their arguments that tougher fuel economy standards would harm automakers. Greater fuel efficiency will make domestic automakers more competitive. Detroit was too slow to respond to the oil embargo of the 1970s, and it has been too slow to respond to the current energy challenge.

George Will’s negative comment about Senator McCain’s support for fuel efficient vehicles ignores the larger picture. Would Romney and Will rather see us maintain our addiction to oil, and continue sending money to Putin, Chavez and Ahmadinejad? The more dependent we are on oil, the more exposed our economy becomes to price shock, and the more entangled the United States becomes in the world’s trouble spots.

Senator McCain realizes that Detroit must produce more fuel efficient vehicles in order to compete in a future of higher fuel prices.

While Romney simply panders, Senator McCain leads and shows that he understands the problem by telling people what they need to hear.