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End of The Hummer? | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

End of The Hummer?

The good news out of Detroit is that the largest version of the Hummer – the 10,000 pound, less than 10 mpg, $150,000 Hummer H1 – is being scrapped by General Motors due to lagging sales.

But, on the flip side, sales for the entire Hummer fleet – including the H2 and H3 models which boast whopping 13 mpg and 16 mpg fuel efficiencies, respectively – TRIPLED nationally between March 2005 and March 2006. According to The Wall Street Journal "people are buying Hummers precisely because of high gas prices – buyers want the world to know they can afford the gas." (If you were wondering who the 29 percent of Americans are who still support George Bush, look no further!).

And, despite recent election year grandstanding, the Bush administration is doing nothing of significance to push for improvements in the fuel efficiency of the gas-guzzling, light trucks category (SUV's, minivans, and pick-ups).

Last week, Bush – who recently "pleaded" with Congress for the "authority" to strengthen fuel efficiency standards (authority which he has had from "the day he stepped into office," according to Daniel Lashoff, Science Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate Center) – submitted legislation that would set fuel standards based on a new "marginal cost/marginal benefit analysis," instead of the current "best technology" approach.

The "cost/benefit" analysis – the method of choice employed by corporations protecting their bottom lines – invariably overstates the costs of implementing new technologies while understating the difficult to quantify benefits of things like independence from foreign oil, reduced global warming and cleaner air. Furthermore, the Bush proposal would allow manufacturers to accumulate credits for surpassing automobile mileage standards, which they could then use if they fail to meet mileage standards set for light trucks.

According to Lashoff, "The Administration's proposal is a Trojan Horse that they are trying to sell to consumers but really is a gift to GM."

Any more tricks like these and Bush might soon see gas prices exceed his approval rating. In the meantime, an angry electorate should let its representatives know that this Bush proposal isn't worth the paper it's printed on – literally, when one considers the energy cost to manufacture and recycle the paper.

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