For Green Activists, the Cleanest Cars in History Are Bad News

By John A. Charles, Jr.

The Oregon Legislature convened again last week. A top priority for some officials is SB 1507, which would create an energy rationing program that likely would increase the cost of gasoline to more than $7 dollars per gallon by 2035. This is being promoted as a means of reducing carbon dioxide, which some people think is a pollutant. 

Coincidentally, the Environmental Protection Agency just released its latest update of automobile emissions trends for carbon dioxide. The report shows that CO2 emissions per mile for all motor vehicles sold in 2017 were the lowest since the agency began collecting data in 1975.

For truck SUVs, the reduction since 1975 was 50%. For minivans it was 51%. For standard passenger cars it was 55%. Almost miraculously, automakers have produced the cleanest cars in history while also making them much safer and more pleasant to drive than the 1975 models. 

One would think that environmental advocates would be pleased with this success story, but good news is actually bad news for activists. They can only pass onerous legislation when everyone thinks we have a crisis. 

We don’t have a crisis, and we don’t need this bill.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.