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Argument: Fuel economy standards increase driving, do not decrease emissions

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Supporting quotations

Charli E. Coon, J.D. "Why the Government's CAFE Standards for Fuel Efficiency Should Be Repealed, not Increased". Heritage Foundation. 11 July 2001 - WHY CAFE FAILS TO REDUCE CONSUMPTION

Advocates of higher CAFE standards argue that increasing miles per gallon will reduce gas consumption. What they fail to mention is the well-known "rebound effect"--greater energy efficiency leads to greater energy consumption. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal noted that in the 19th century, British economist Stanley Jevons found that coal consumption initially decreased by one-third after James Watt's new, efficient steam engine began replacing older, more energy-hungry engines. 13 But in the ensuing years (1830 to 1863), consumption increased tenfold--the engines were cheaper to run and thus were used more often than the older, less efficient models. In short, greater efficiency produced more energy use, not less.

The same principle applies to CAFE standards. A more fuel-efficient vehicle costs less to drive per mile, so vehicle mileage increases. As the author of The Wall Street Journal article notes, "[s]ince 1970, the United States has made cars almost 50% more efficient; in that period of time, the average number of miles a person drives has doubled." 14 This increase certainly offsets a portion of the gains made in fuel efficiency from government mandated standards.

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