PG columnist Jack Kelly's criticism of enhanced automobile mileage (CAFE) standards ("Fuel Policy Is Foolish," May 24) might have deserved respectful consideration 10 years ago but fails to acknowledge current realities.
Of these, the imperative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars and other sources is paramount for protecting our entire civilization from the dangers of unmitigated climate change. The stronger standards are a means to move in this direction, but the claim they necessarily make cars less safe is fallacious. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration study of 1991-1999 cars (outdated but the best we have) tells us that increasing mileage by reducing vehicle weight will either reduce safety (by replacing mid/large cars with small ones) or increase safety by replacing SUVs with lighter midsize or large cars - i.e., we have a choice.
More important, most future efficiency improvements will require no reduction in weight, but rather the substitution of electric power for the less-efficient internal combustion engine. The new standards will facilitate this transition to electricity, as well as the transition from coal to alternative energy as a source for electricity generation. In that sense, they are a vital step forward.