Reader Question: Killing CAFE?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Michael asks: Eric, you don’t explain how a Democrat-controlled House  will affect CAFE standards, which are created by the EPA, which works for the president. I’m still hopeful Trump eases them back by fiat, which is how Obama ramped them up at the end of his presidency.

My reply: The EPA – like other federal regulatory apparats – is effectively under no one’s control. This includes the voters, who at best exercise indirect oversight via their “representatives.” This a big part of the problem. Congress passes a general law – for example, the Clean Air Act – and leaves it to the regulatory apparat to “interpret” (and implement) it.

It is not an exaggeration to state that these apparats have acquired de facto legislative power.

Now, Trump could simply issue an executive order. The problem there (leaving aside the dictatorial aspects – a whole ‘nother problem) is that the Congress could countermand him and – probably more of a factor in this case – several states (especially California) oppose dialing back CAFE as well as several major automakers – including GM and Honda.

The latter may be so acting out of worry over a future president (or Congress) reimposing the 50 MPG fatwa – if it were rescinded now – and thus they’d have to turn their product planning around (again) and redesign their products to conform to the new regime. Also, they have already invested hugely in a product line that assumes 50 MPG, especially with regard to electric cars.

In brief, we’re screwed – and it’s too late to do much about it.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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