With President Obama adopting historic fuel efficiency regulations for motor vehicles, it may be helpful to hear from opponents of the regulatory approach, not only from the President’s political opponents but also the venerable Brookings Institution

2 minute read

August 31, 2012, 5:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


Being an election year, Republicans were quick to oppose the "'historic' regulations that nearly double the "Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, program mandate to 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year", but why has a Brookings Institution economics expert joined the critics?

"Gov. Romney opposes the extreme standards that President Obama has imposed, which will limit the choices available to American families", reported ThinkProgress on Aug. 28.

"Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, recently charged the plan is a gift to "environmental extremists", reported Politico, while environmentalists surely did celebrate the new regulations.

"Today, President Obama has taken the most significant action by any President in history to move our country off oil and slash dangerous, climate disrupting pollution that threatens our children's future", announced Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club in their Aug. 28 press release.

Ted Gayer, co-director of the Economic Studies program at the Brookings Institution and W. Kip Viscusi, Vanderbilt University Distinguished Professor of Law, Economics, and Management not only oppose the regulatory approach toward fuel efficiency standards for motor vehicles but also "to clothes dryers, air conditioners, and light bulbs".

Gayer and Viscusi assert that "as the regulatory agencies' own estimates confirm, the environmental benefits of these regulations are negligible, and are often dwarfed by the societal costs they impose."

"In our recently released Mercatus Center study, we examined a sample of energy efficiency regulations proposed or enacted by the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency to assess the validity of their benefit claims."

So if not government mandates, what does Gayer suggest - if anything, to promote energy efficiency?

"[A] lot of these regulations aren't well-equipped at getting a problem; whereas, if you put a price, like a carbon tax as you say, which is my preferred policy, that actually gets at the problem", he explained to Monica Trauzzi on E&E TV on July 17, 2012.

Monica Trauzzi: "But we've gone down this road before and we figured out that these approaches are not necessarily politically feasible right now. So, aren't these efficiency measures the next best thing?"

Ted Gayer: "Well, so I think you're right. I think politically what I'm advocating for, as we've seen, is very difficult."

Thanks to Environment & Energy Publishing (E&E)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 in US News & World Report

Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

April 10, 2024 - California Planning & Development Report

Close-up of maroon California 'Clean Air Vehicle' carpool lane access sticker on the back bumper of a silver Tesla vehicle.

California EV Owners To Lose Carpool Lane Privilege

A program that began in 1999 to encourage more electric car ownership is set to expire next year without Congressional and state action.

April 2, 2024 - San Francisco Chronicle

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Google street view of grassy lot next to brick church with elevated freeway on other side in Houston, Texas.

Houston Supportive Housing Development Sparks Debate

Critics say a proposed apartment building would negatively impact the neighborhood’s walkability.

April 12 - Houston Chronicle

Closed black wrought iron gate in front of gated residential community with large palm trees along sides of street.

Friday Funny: Gated Community Doubles Down

The Onion skewers suburbia.

April 12 - The Onion

Aerial view of Chicago with river in foreground.

‘Cut the Tape’ Report Takes Aim at Inefficiencies

A set of recommendations from the Chicago mayor’s office calls for streamlining city processes to stimulate more residential and commercial development.

April 12 - Block Club Chicago

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.