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W signs 35 mpg bill.

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 2:25 pm
by Bilnick

WASHINGTON - President Bush signed into law Wednesday legislation that will bring more fuel-efficient vehicles into auto showrooms and require wider use of ethanol, calling it "a major step" toward energy independence and easing global warming.

The legislation signed by Bush at a ceremony at the Energy Department requires automakers to increase fuel efficiency by 40 percent to an industry average 35 miles per gallon by 2020. It also ramps up production of ethanol use to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022.

Bush said the new requirements will help "address our vulnerabilities and dependency" on foreign oil by reducing demand for gasoline and diversifying the nation's fuel supply.

"We make a major step ... toward reducing our dependence on oil, fighting global climate change, expanding the production of renewable fuels and giving future generations ... a nation that is stronger cleaner and more secure," said the president.

Bush was flanked by Democrat and Republican members of Congress who had ushered the legislation through.

The House passed the energy bill Tuesday by a 314-100 vote after the Senate cleared it last week following lengthy negotiations and sometimes testy confrontations. Bush had vowed to veto the original legislation passed by the House because it included $21 billion in taxes.

The tax provisions were dropped to get the bill approved.

Congress delivered the legislation to the White House late Tuesday in a gas-hybrid sedan.

Bush noted that earlier this year he had proposed a plan to cut gasoline use by 20 percent over the next 10 years. But the president has long opposed arbitrary numerical standards for vehicle fuel economy.

The legislation increases the federal standard automakers must meet to an industry wide 35 mpg for passengers cars, SUVs and small trucks. The standard for cars today is 27.5 mpg and for trucks and SUVs 22.2 mpg.

It requires refineries to increase the use of ethanol from about 6 billion gallons a year this year to 36 billion gallons by 2022 and mandates that by then at least 21 billion gallons are to come from feedstocks other than corn.

Bush praised that provision which would spur the development of ethanol from cellulosic feedstocks such as prairie grass and wood chips.

"We understand the hog growers are getting nervous. The price of corn is up," said the president.

Flanking Bush were Senate Majority Harry Reid of Nevada and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California as well as Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., a longtime protector of the auto industry. Dingell played a key role in working out a compromise on the vehicle fuel economy measure.

Democrats have hailed the legislation as a turn to a new direction in U.S. energy policy.

"I firmly believe this country needs to have a comprehensive energy strategy," said Bush before signing the bill. He referred to the need for more nuclear energy and domestic oil production — issues that the new energy bill ignores.

Instead, the bill focuses largely on conservation, calling for more energy efficiency in "light bulbs to light trucks" as Dingell observed during the House debate on the legislation.

"This is a choice between yesterday and tomorrow" on energy policy, Pelosi said Tuesday shortly before the House passed the bill, sending it to the White House.

The bill also calls for improved energy efficiency of appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and dishwashers, and a 70 percent increase in the efficiency of light bulbs. It also calls for energy efficiency improvements in federal buildings and construction of commercial buildings.

The new lighting standards alone are projected to lower consumers' annual electricity bills by $13 billion in 2020, remove the need for 60 mid-size power plants and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas, by 100 million tons a year, said the advocacy group Alliance to Save Energy.

Democrats said the fuel economy requirements will save motorists $700 to $1,000 a year in fuel costs and reduce oil demand by 1.1 million barrels a day when the fuel-stingy vehicles are widely on the road.

The overall bill including more ethanol use and various efficiency requirements and incentives, will cut U.S. oil demand by 4 million barrels a day by 2030, more than twice the current daily imports from the volatile Persian Gulf, Democrats said.

I am divided on this.

On one hand I see the need to conserve resources.

On the other, is it the governments place to tell me what kind of car I have to buy? We already have vehicles that get way more than 35 mpg that dont sell nearly as well as pickups getting 15-20 mpg.

Overall I would say let the market drive fuel economy standards. If gas is $1 a gallon people will buy high performance or big vehicles, and fuel economy will weigh less on thier purchasing decision. If gas hits $4-5 per gallon, more people will buy 35+ mpg cars.

I am interested in seeing if the Chevy Volt can deliver on the promises it has made. It could theoretically get infinite mpg if the driver only drove short trips.

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 3:54 pm
by Jahras
It doesn't seem to dictate what you can and can't buy, just what can and can't be built by the auto industry. Most states already have emissions regulations that you have to be under to pass inspection with a vehicle, so that is already the limitation on drivers. So as long as states don't update those regulations, under this it looks like people can hang onto their hummers as long as they can keep them functioning.

But I predict big cars will remain as long as there is a demand, more money will just be spent in efficiency tech to keep them legal to build. Our current automobile engines are extremely inefficient, I think the usual operating mechanical efficiency of the avg gas motor on the road is about 25%, up around 40% at their optimal conditions/RPMs. Most of the energy is lost to heat (and the coolant system) and exhaust, and a smaller amount to friction and vibration.

It's kind of exciting to me to see what new work around will be developed to deal with the heat/exhaust energy sinks. I know a lot of people have been hyping hydrogen injection to increase the performance of the actual combustion reaction to improve efficiency, but i find a lot of their claims hard to believe without a real case study.

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:00 pm
by Worff
Yeah I believe that will force auto manufacturers to meet current demands of big cars and engine power (which everyone wants of course) with innovative solutions to make those coveted vehicles meet the legal fuel consumption standards... sounds like a good plan... I guess we'll see.

I just hope they don't continue to try and meet that by sacraficing quality like they have in the past... mainly to reduce vehicle weight, thus reducing the amount of energy needed to move it. I think this has capped at how far one could go with that method without developing a new material that is lighter and stronger than the fiberglass and styrofoam now filling our chassis.

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:33 pm
by Goofydoofy
I say everybody should have to walk or ride bicycles or horses and we could use the horseshit to create heating fuel for the homes. Then communities would have to work within their own neighborhoods and have a vested insterest in the places they live and work.

This is my utopia. Welcome!

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:46 pm
by Bilnick
Engines have increased efficieny tremendously over the last decade or so. Most of the gains have pointed to increased power rather than increased fuel economy. People would rather have a 275hp car that gets 25 mpg vs a 125hp car that gets 40 mpg.

The standards dont take into account other factors. Which is more efficient? My wife driving 4 people in her minivan getting 22 mpg? Or the guy driving alone in his hybrid getting 45mpg?

Funny that the bill advocates increased ethanol for fuel production, yet it takes 10-20% more ethanol to drive the same distance vs gas. Part of that is due to engines being designed and tuned to run on gasoline.

There will be some tradeoffs too. Cars have incresed thier weight in the last 20 years or so. Some of the increased weight is safety related. Airbags, traction control systems, extra side impact bracing, cars are designed with crush zones now, etc. Much of it is customer demands. People don't buy little 4 bangers with no sound deadening material, rubber floors, hollow doors, etc like the 70s/80s. People want nice carpet, premium seats, convertibles, sun roofs, padded dashboards, etc. all add weight, all reduce fuel economy.

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:57 pm
by EQIsenhart
From the look of things it looks like one of the first good things President Bush is doing.

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:22 pm
by Bilnick
He (well he signed into law) lowered taxes and increased the child tax credit early in his first term.

Less taxes for me = good.

I have no problem with high mpg cars. I do not like governments legislating them. If people wanted high mpg cars they would buy them as they are readily avaialable now. This bill may hurt Americans more than help.

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:39 pm
by Jimbop
Well this could be potentially bad for auto makers. Unless some new innovations come out that allow people to keep power but improve on efficiency, how many people do you see sacrificing power for gas mileage? There will be some for sure, but the majority probably won't. Picture a truck with 35 mpg, but doesn't have a lot of power to tow stuff with. What would be the point of it? I just don't see many people buying new cars if they are gutless compared to cars from before the regulation. Though sometimes I do think of the money I could save with an efficient car compared to my 1999 Cherokee. But when I turn 4 wheel drive and plow myself through bad areas of snow, I laugh and banish those thoughts. :jester

And it's hard to get mad at the government for legislating them. They already regulate a ton of things in automotives already, from safety standards to emissions tests.

I think we're going to run the risk of putting too many eggs in one basket in terms of ethanol. It's not exactly the most efficient process to make it, and we won't be able to produce enough of it to take away our dependency on oil. It's a step in the right direction for sure, but it's not the end-all solution, and more and more money keeps getting invested in it as being the savior.

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:36 pm
by Goofydoofy
Anything that causes less oil to be used will not pass. This is my prediction.

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:21 pm
by Fenina
For non truck / hauling related activities might (once it is in a decent price range) seems like it might fit in well /shrug

Bare in mind I kind of know nothing about vehicles =P

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:49 pm
by Goofydoofy
Nice car if I had 100+ grand to piss away. In the meantime, I'll continue to drive my 1984 Mercedes 500 SEL direct from Germany which burns high octane gas and has a pretty powerful 8 cylinder engine that sucks the dollars directly out of the wallet when I hit the gas.

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:17 pm
by Horcrux
Bilnick wrote:This bill may hurt Americans more than help.

However, as Americans we are spoiled as hell. How many times do you see some random person driving an H2 around at, what, 10-15 MPG?, doing common errands that could be done in a 35 MPG car that cost less? How about all the people buying these high price big trucks when they have nothing to haul in it? Just because people want to have the biggest and strongest vehicle, doesnt mean they need it. If more people only bought what they needed with an automobile, I highly doubt gas prices would be as high as they currently are.

This is not the only approach that needs to be taken though. What needs to happen is increased benefits and/or easability for using public transportation. As an example, on my campus there are 3 colleges, and therefore around 50,000 students who commute every day. On top of our semester of tuition we pay a 32$ fee that gives us a pass we can use on any buss or commutor train in Denver and the surrounding cities without paying an extra dime. 32$ for free public transportation for 4-5 months. I live 25 miles from campus, yet I only drive 6 miles a day (3 each way to the park-n-ride). If more companies or big organizations made an effort into giving benefits or making public transportation easier that would take a huge strain off our gas situation.

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:42 pm
by Bilnick
Horcrux wrote:32$ for free public transportation for 4-5 months.

32$ doesn't sound free to me! :jester

Of course cars like the H2 are excessive. So what? Almost everyone has some excess in thier life. Maybe you have a 20" monitor when all you need is a 13". Maybe you bought $50 jeans when a $20 pair of Wrangler jeans will serve the same purpose.

What if the government passed a law that stated that all PC monitors must use less than 1W of power by 2020. And the only way to acheive that would be by producing only 10" monitors. Would that be good?

This is why I say let economics decide what people buy. If oil goes to $120 a barrel and gas goes up to $5 a gallon, people will demand that the automakers produce more fuel efficient cars. If gas drops back down t $2 fuel economy becomes less important.

Ethanol is not the be all end all solution. It is part of the solution though. New ways need to be found to produce ethanol though. I read somewhere that we couldn't possibly grow enough corn in the USA to replace gasoline with ethanol. Maybe with global the next ice age preventer...places that can only grow one season of crops could grow 2.

I think the answer though will be plug in cars like the Tesla, or the Chevy Volt.

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:50 pm
by Worff
We as a society have met many challenges in the past... I'm sure manufacturers will figure out a way to get power and economy under one hood /nod. If the handful of American car makers left dont do it... foreign ones will.

PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2007 5:14 am
by Ceruis
This bill is a bad move. I think the only thing the government might have a leg to stand on is on emissions because of air quality. Demand will take care of fuel enficiency all by itself, we hardly need the government to regulate it. And really, "as Americans we are spoiled as hell" is a pretty lame line. Just because our forefathers busted their asses to raise the standard of living for their childern doesn't mean we are spoiled. It just means that all the whiny ass people in the rest of the world need to get off their collective rearends to improve their lot. Iraq is a prime example of a county that sitting on a ton of wealth if only they would get off their asses to do something about it.