Cant Get Enough of that Regulation

     When environmentalists want regulation, its never enough. And the media are often willing to give them the spotlight.

     New fuel efficiency regulations have the media going straight to environmental groups for frowns all the while assuming that more costly regulation of the auto industry is a good thing.

     His plan is so weak, its like asking a three-pack-a-day smoker to cut back one cigarette, said the Sierra Clubs Daniel Becker in Tom Costellos story on the March 30 Today.

     March 30 articles for The Washington Post and The New York Times jumped immediately into complaints by environmental groups. The Post left out any response from opponents of the regulation, while the Times buried the response of the SUV Owners of America (SUVOA).

     The Timess Matthew Wald dismissed SUVOA as a group run by industry lobbyists, allowing them one quote at the end of his article. In an era when were at $2.50 a gallon plus, the real question is why you need a rule like this, argued SUVOA spokesman Ron DeFore.

     NBCs Costello also included DeFore in his Today story but put greater weight on complaints about the regulation by the Sierra Club.

     Costello added that environmental groups like Beckers want 40-mile-per-gallon requirements for all passenger vehicles in the United States, regardless of size, but he didnt find an expert to address how feasible, or calculate how costly, it would be to make vans and trucks meet such a high standard.

     CNNs Miles OBrien agreed on the March 30 American Morning, saying, Id like an SUV that gets 50 miles to the gallon. Why cant we do that? We sent a man to the moon. Andy Serwer then encouraged him to buy a hybrid.

     Serwer said the standards, which would require a Ford Explorer SUV to increase its fuel efficiency from 17.7 mpg to 25.2 mpg by the year 2011, were a modest increase and added, consumer advocates say that this is not enough and more should be done. He didnt identify these so-called consumer advocates, who supposedly would support higher car prices for auto buyers. The Post reported that the regulations will increase automakers costs by $6.7 billion.

     In the drive to reduce gasoline consumption, the media overlooked experts such as Mark P. Mills, a physicist and energy expert quoted by the Times on March 30. He explained what a real consumer advocate would understand, exposing a flaw in the regulatory agenda. As the Times reported, he said that improvements in vehicle efficiency would not reduce consumption because without a significant rise in gasoline prices to encourage buyers to save fuel, most people would simply take advantage of the advances to demand bigger, faster vehicles.