New House Leadership, Same Mileage Standards

John Dingell, a Representative from Michigan, will, come January, be the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. His district is home to all three of America's top car manufacturers, and, for some reason, he's not in favor of increasing mileage standards. Some members of Congress have been walking the Treehugger line, saying that efficiency of American vehicles could easily double in every class. The benefits for the environment would be incalculable, they say, and the burden on industry would be negligible. But with Detroit's Representative charing the House Energy Committee, those changes are extremely unlikely.

Dingell's perspective seems to be that new clean technologies should be strongly encouraged, but no regulations should be placed directly on the automakers. In a recent interview with CNBC, Dingell was asked about vehicle efficiency standards and replied, "I'm not sure that there's any urgent needs for us to address those questions."Automotive regulations that are likely to get passed under Dingell all involve "incentives" for the automobile industry. Incentives for vehicle conversion to ethanol and biodiesel, incentives for building more efficient vehicles and incentives for production of electric vehicles top the list of likely Dingell environmental legislation. And, hey, we like all of those ideas.

But really, after 12 years of flat line efficiency, to say that efficiency standards aren't important and would place undue burdens on automobile manufacturers is disheartening and ridiculous. While we recognize Dingell's commitment to technologies of the future, today's mileage standards are going nowhere.

See also ::New Directions for Federal Energy Policy