As gas prices soar and automobile fuel economy hits a twenty year low, the Bush administration today announced a giant, gift-wrapped present to the Middle East oil sheiks: the derailing of a proposed increase in fuel economy standards for the biggest gas guzzlers. The decision to renew fuel economy exemptions for cars weighing over 8,500 pounds was inspired by Washington’s ongoing love affair with big oil -- and by the checkbook diplomacy used by Detroit to win over Washington.
When Congress originally exempted large SUVs in the 1980s, seeking to keep costs down for construction and agricultural businesses, no one foresaw that these gas guzzlers would be embraced by American families for non commercial uses. But billions spent on advertising by Detroit convinced the public that these cars-on-steroids were hip, and necessary for trips to soccer games, weekend picnics, school and church. The resulting petroleum addiction has driven us all the way to Iraq.
The administration’s renewal of this reckless exemption is a boon to big oil, Detroit, Iran, the Saudi sheiks, and Hezbollah -- and America be damned. Generations of American children will be paying the bills for this gift via diminished quality of life, reduced opportunities for economic prosperity, and weakened national security -- all brought on by global warming and our dependence on fossil fuels. Even though we are already suffering from record-breaking heat waves, unprecedented droughts, torrential rains, and violent hurricanes, the administration has once again elevated the narrow short-term interest of its corporate contributors over the welfare of the American people.