Once again the Congressional toadies for the auto industry have
beaten back efforts by legislators such as Democrat, Senator John Kerry
and Republican John McCain to gradually increase fuel efficiency
standards from the abysmally wasteful levels now inflicted on your
pocketbook. Instead of choosing the path of reduced pollution, consumer
savings, efficiency of engines and less reliance on imported oil, these
indentured lawmakers turned their back on automotive engineers who know
how to do the job but are not allowed by their bosses.
The Sierra Club has decided to stop spinning its wheels on Capitol
Hill and go directly to the people. In surveys of likely voters in
Missouri and South Dakota, 79 percent of the people wanted the auto
industry to be required to increase fuel efficiency and that included
light truck owners. The voters do not buy the auto company propaganda
that more fuel efficient vehicles means less safety. Sixty percent of
these voters say they would pay more for a higher mileage vehicle in
return for its much larger dollar savings.
Long time car owners know that fuel efficiency overall is no better
than what vehicles did in 1980! They are wary of the sudden spikes in
gasoline prices. They also know that the companies spend lots of money
on engine hyper-performance rather than on engine hyper-efficiency.
Despite massive advertising by the auto companies to the contrary, they
do not believe them.
Bolstered by public opinion, the Sierra Club announced a three year campaign
to pressure automakers to improve fuel economy. Executive Director, Carl Pope,
said "The technology exists today to allow the automakers to continue offering
their most popular models, but with significantly improved fuel economy. These
new safe, fuel-saving SUVs and pickups could be on the shelf very soon." (see
www.sierraclub.org for specific
The Sierra Club is publicizing a "Freedom Option Package", which is
a set of fuel-saving components that could be added to most standard
models and that, taken together, could put the fleets of the Big Three
on the road to 40 miles per gallon.
Dan Becker, the Club's Clean Energy director says that "Detroit
wants to sell option packages featuring seat warmers and cup holders"
instead. He is mobilizing the Club's 700,000 members across the country
to hold events at local auto dealers. Becker has enlisted a prominent
Chevrolet dealer, Chuck Frank in support of this initiative.
The Sierra Club, once enthralled by Bill Ford's environmental
statements and assurances of major increases in Ford's SUV's is now so
disappointed with his company's joining the other auto giants to lobby
against fuel-efficiency laws that it has singled him and Ford Motor
Company for special pressure by motorists.
Soon to come (September 17th) is the most jolting book against the auto
company executives since Unsafe at Any Speed came out in 1965. I am referring
to New York Times reporter, Keith Bradsher's devastating expose of the
SUVs which he calls the world's most dangerous vehicles and how they got
that way. Titled The High and Mighty, this book explains how the
auto industry's grip on Congress got these SUVs (hoked-up, over-priced
light truck) exempted form safety, fuel efficiency and pollution requirements
that were imposed on automobiles. That was accomplished when these vehicles
were a small percentage of overall sales. Now they are a large part of
sales; they kill their occupants in roll overs three times the rate of
cars; areuniquely dangerous to other motorists and will become more serious
when drunks, teenagers, typically the worst drivers on the road, start
buying the older used SUVs, Bradsher says.
With an impressive attention to detail and special documentation,
Bradsher reports on the enormous advertising money ($10 billion spent
since 1990) to deceive their customers and persuade Americans to switch
from cars to the very profitable SUVs. While, he declares,
"Gas-guzzling SUVs emit one-third more global-warming gases per mile
than cars, and up to 5.5 times as much smog-causing nitrogen oxides per
If the media grasps the importance of this book, September will be a
hot month for the high and mighty in Detroit's executive suites. And