“Agressive” legislation, DiFi style

Enclosed below is a letter (submitted via her web site) that I wrote to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) tonight in response to a puff piece she sent me announcing her support for Diane Feinstein’s “Ten-in-ten Fuel Economy Act” aka “S. 357”, a bill that DiFi has described as “aggressive” legislation to address oil dependence and global warming, but which I see as anything but: reducing our current baseline gasoline usage by less than 12.5% over twelve years is hardly “aggressive”, and in the context of rapidly rising usage from China and India, represents a drop in the bucket with regards to addressing global warming.
I’ve included Boxer’s original email, along with a email from DiFi in reference to S. 357 containing the “aggressive legislation” quote, which I received earlier this year in response to a letter to her about supporting higher fuel efficiency standards. If this represents the extent of the vision in Washington for reducing domestic gasoline consumption, things are in a sorry state.

Dear Senator Boxer,
I received your email today touting your support of Dianne Feinstein’s S. 357, the “Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act”. This is legislation that Dianne Feinstein, in a previous email, described as “aggressive legislation” to reduce dependence on oil and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
In my view, increasing fuel efficiency standards by a mere 10 miles per hour by 2019 does not qualify as an “aggressive” response to the global climate / environmental crisis. The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid already approach or exceed twice the current standard – and European automakers have non-hybrid vehicles for sale *today* whose fuel economy doubles the proposed new standard.
In Silicon Valley alone, at least two companies are developing high performance all electric vehicles (WrightSpeed and Tesla), and elsewhere, engineers are discussing the possibility of 300 mpg “plug-in” hybrid vehicles that need to fill up just once or twice a year.
We have the technology, today, to do much better than 35 miles per gallon – and it seems more than reasonable to believe that, ten years from now, it could be deployed widely enough to be standard on all newly manufactured vehicles.
35 miles an hour is where we should have been ten years ago… let alone ten years from now! I drive a pickup manufactured in 1986 with a 2.0 litre engine that gets anywhere from 22-24 mpg depending on the mix of driving I do. By this bill’s standards, an improvement of a mere 13 miles an hour in fuel efficiency over the subsequent 33 years will constitute adequate technological process.
S. 357 does the moral equivalent of raising the hurdles from 1 feet high to 1.5 feet high, and then applauding loudly as the contestants step over them with equal ease.
I urge you to support authentically
“aggressive” and timely targets that will make a real impact on global warming.
Thomas Leavitt
Santa Cruz, CA

Boxer Puff Piece, received 02/16/2007:
Dear Friend:
As Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public
Works, I have made it my priority to stop global warming and
improve our environment. As part of that effort, I am pleased
to let you that I am supporting a bill by Senator Dianne
Feinstein to improve passenger automobile fuel economy, reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
This legislation is known as the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act,
This bill would increase the fuel economy standards, known as
CAFE standards, for SUVs and other light duty trucks and would
increase the combined fleet average for all automobiles from 25
miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon by model year 2019.
When CAFE standards were first established in 1975, light
trucks made up only a small percentage of total vehicles on the
road and were mostly used by farmers and business. The
standard for them and for SUVs was set at a level that does not
reflect the fact that today these make up more than half of the
new car sales in America. This bill would go a long way to
correcting this discrepancy.
Our bill would also significantly reduce the amount of carbon
dioxide — the largest single cause of global warming — from
being released into the atmosphere. If enacted, this
legislation would result in a reduction of 350 million tons of
carbon dioxide from being emitted by cars by 2025. This would
be roughly equivalent to removing 60 million cars from our
roads in one year.
Finally, S.357 seeks to actually reduce our nation’s fuel
consumption, making us less dependent on foreign oil and
reducing the demand for new domestic sources. In large
measure, our legislation is a step forward in creating a sound
energy policy for our nation that will also increase our
national security.
I am pleased to join a bipartisan group of Senators supporting
this important legislation and look forward to its passage.
Barbara Boxer
United States Senator
DiFi Letter re: fuel economy… notice how twelve years has been redefined as ten years, since the letter below was written.
January 10, 2007
Mr. Thomas Leavitt
PO Box 7095
Santa Cruz, California 95061
Dear Mr. Leavitt:
Thank you for writing to me to express your support for
increasing automobile fuel efficiency standards. I always appreciate
hearing from constituents on issues that are important to them.
I understand and share your concerns regarding automobile fuel
efficiency. America’s cars and light trucks are responsible for
approximately 20 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide pollution, which is a
greenhouse gas that causes global warming. In addition, the United
States is the largest consumer of oil, using 20.4 million barrels per day.
By increasing the average fuel economy standards for all vehicles, we
can reduce our dependence on oil in addition to decreasing our
greenhouse gas emissions.
There are many new technologies on the market to help
automakers improve fuel efficiency standards. Unfortunately, without a
mandatory increase in fuel economy standards, many of these
technologies are being used instead to increase speed, size, or
You will be pleased to know that I have recently introduced the
“Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act” (S. 3543) that would raise the average
fuel economy standards for all vehicles from their current average of 25
miles per gallon (mpg) to 35 mpg by model year 2017. This legislation
would save 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, which is what we currently
import from the Persian Gulf daily, and prevent 420 million metric tons
of carbon dioxide from being emitted by 2025. I believe that this is
aggressive legislation that will provide a realistic solution to help the
United States decrease our dependence on oil and decrease our
greenhouse gas emissions.
Please know that I will keep your comments in mind as I
continue to fight for higher automobile fuel efficiency standards. Again,
thank you for your letter and I hope you will continue to contact me on
issues that are important to me. If you have any additional comments or
questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. staff at
(202) 224-3841.
Sincerely yours,
Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator