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Introducing Green Options!

If you are looking for ways to "green the good life," then start today, because you now have a fantastic tool at your fingertips. Green Options is a site that provides practical, personal information on ways we can all live a more efficient, healthy, and eco-friendly lifestyle. I'm blogging daily there as well, covering the national renewable energy scene.

In addition to a blog hosted by a stable of writers covering issues like green business, politics (the site is strictly nonpartisan), and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) posts, Green Options features a Green Life Guide, discussion forums, daily green news, and other tools.

We haven't even been live for a full month yet, but we're adding more tools all the time and still have more to come. In response to suggestions that we cover more geographic areas then just green living in the United States, we've added a blogger from Israel and may be adding more. And stay tuned for more practical, applicable tools coming out in the near future to help you incorporate renewable energy into your life.

What is Clean Coal?

I have major problems with the talk about clean coal. The term is not accurate nor appropriate for coal discussions. All the talk of "clean" coal surrounds the technologies which burn it and what happens to pollution and carbon emissions during that process. It totally ignores the many problems of the coal extraction and shipping industry.

The idea of "clean coal" is often used to refer to coal plants which use carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies. The idea is to snatch the carbon dioxide out of the exhaust stream and store it deep under ground where most of it will stay for thousands of years (or ideally longer).

The big question is what type of coal plant is best suited to adding CCS systems after it is built (retrofitting). I had believed that IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) was better suited to CCS but now the NY Times is reporting that pulverized coal may still be more economic when it comes to CCS.

"Other than recommending that new coal combustion units should be built with the highest efficiency that is economically justifiable, we do not believe that a clear preference for one technology or the other can be justified," the draft concludes. The M.I.T. study said it was critical that the government "not fall into the trap of picking a technology 'winner.'"

Regardless, CCS is not a proven technology that will function at the level we need it to. The idea of building more coal plants before we know that CCS can be massively commercialized is crazy given a carbon-constrained future.

Even if CCS does become available and its added costs keep coal competitive with other forms of electricity generators, we still have the problem that coal is fundamentally dirty from its birth.

Left-leaning AlterNet has a fantastic article that explores the problems with coal and the debate in West Virginia between coal and wind advocates.

Though coal from Wyoming may not be as devastating to the environment as it has been in West Virginia, the simple fact is that coal mining has many externalities which are not factored into its price.

"Them people up there have no idea of what it's like to live underneath the rule of a coal company. I've watched my mother pull a gun on an insurance man so she could get my father's black lung benefits; I've watched my daddy die of black lung, watched black water roll down my streams, watched my grandson stand in a stream full of dead fish, watched our children go to a school full of coal dust with a sludge dam and a mountaintop removal site behind it," she says.

...

The truth is, while people have spent considerable energy and money figuring out a cleaner way to burn coal, no one has yet come up with a way to get coal out from inside a mountain without destroying the environment and adjacent communities. So, "clean" coal is not much of a solution to people who lives in areas of extraction.

Bear this in mind as you hear about "clean" coal.

The times, they are a changin'

No, hell hasn't frozen over, but Alaska is thawing. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is sponsoring a bill that would raise CAFE standards for cars to 40 mpg, citing the danger posed to his state by global warming. Just two years ago, Stevens voted against the same standards. Stevens isn't the only politician who has changed his tune- former Detroit allies on both sides of the aisle appear willing to back tougher standards in the name of energy security and doing something about global warming.Ted Stevens

Oil, Now Terror Free!

This is wrong on many levels. Apparently, some entrepreneurs have seized upon U.S. fears of funding terrorists via their SUVs and have started marketing terror-free oil.

The station is owned by the Terror-Free Oil Initiative, a group that promises to sell gasoline sourced from countries that "do not export or finance terrorism."

Even if you can reliably guarantee that the place from where you purchased your oil does not have ties to terror (incidental or purposeful), this is like saying you are buying your grain from farmer 'A' rather than farmer 'B.' Oil, like grain, is a commodity.

When you purchase a commodity, it does not matter from who you purchase it. What matters is that you are purchasing it. Your purchase affects the price and that is what matters. If you participate in the market, you help to keep the price high (supply and demand, folks). Therefore, the U.S. cannot dry up funding for terrorists by buying oil from different origins.

If we decide to stop buying oil from Saudi Arabia and purchase more from Russia (for instance), then China and India (for instance) would not be able to buy as much from Russia any more and would need to find a replacement source. So they will buy from Saudi Arabia.

It does not matter from where we get the oil, the problem is how much we require.

Regardless, most Americans do not know and probably do not care about the economic argument above. Oddly enough, they may not even care that much about terror. They care about price. Or so the writer of that blog entry suggests:

My fellow Omahans seem to be greeting the station with healthy dose of Midwest skepticism. "It's really going to depend on the cost," one told a local news station.

That is funny. Really funny.

Oil Pipelines

Just how do they keep those oil pipelines running? Wired covered pigs (the robots that continuously inspect pipelines). They have a graphic and brief explanations of the technologies involved to prevent spills or disruptions.

That issue also features a profile of the first fuel-cell motorcycle which does 50mph and leaves no emissions.

Bush Clueless on Energy

The Star Tribune has an excellent editorial on Bush's energy proposals from his State of the Union address. In short, they will likely encourage continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions and do little to encourage biofuels.

Finally, as he did last year, the president emphasized the need for the development and expansion of alternative fuels. The prospect of expanding corn ethanol production and the development of other biofuels is not only good for energy self-reliance, it's also good for the economies of states like Minnesota, where corn, prairie grasses and other sources of fuel can be grown. Here the president did propose a mandate: the production of 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels by 2017. But whole-plant or cellulosic ethanol, which would have fewer environmental impacts than corn ethanol, isn't ready for prime time, and Bush has never supported the levels of research necessary to create a working industry.

As is usual for politicians at the national level, Bush used misleading language which may make the uninformed observer think he is encouraging smarter energy policy when he is actually doing the opposite. Indeed, his ideas aren't just bad for energy, they are bad for U.S. companies as well.

Bush advocates changing the fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles, but the way in which he wants to change them makes more sense for the sagging auto industry than as a means of reaching his purported goal: getting more miles per gallon of fuel.

A major reason for poor U.S. sales remains the wretched fuel economy of U.S. car companies. They have pushed the most profitable cars - SUVs - without a care for environmental consequences and without increasing the competitiveness of their smaller cars. CAFE is smarter than the execs - it is not often you hear government bureaucrats making better decisions than the market, but we need to go that route unless we really want the market to punish U.S. automakers with continued declining sales.

Rising to the Challenge: Youth Climate mobilization

This week January 29th-Feb 2nd is the national week of youth climate action: Rising to the Challenge, with events hosted at 575 campuses nation-wide. Students in Minnesota will host Campus Wars, a month long competition to save energy and speak out for climate change action.

I invite you to check out the wider initiative at http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/category/week-of-action/

Hosted by It's Getting Hot in Here, the global youth climate movement blog.

In case you want to check out the campuses involved, you can do so at: http://www.climatechallenge.org/woa

I coordinate many of the efforts of the Minnesota schools at campus sustainability, advocacy, and developing ambitious, concrete solutions to global warming.

Midwest youth in this movement will gather together for the Youth Climate Action Conference on March 2-4 in Madison Wisconsin - the second annual gathering our youth energy and climate leaders.

RES Update

I have been meaning to write something about the 18 Jan, 2007 Senate Energy Committee meeting. Minutes are not posted as of now, but will be linked to from that page when they are available. I don't think they have made an audio version of the hearing available, but you can stream video of it (Real Media format or Windows Media Player format).

I previously analyzed two of the RES bills that are under discussion in the committee. There are two others. Committee Counseler John Fuller created a really handy spreadsheet that shows how each of the four bills differ and where they agree (pdf). I want to thank him for making that available to us.

For those unfamiliar with a Renewable Energy Standard or Renewable Energy Objective, both require utilities to generate a certain percentage of the electricity they sell within MN from renewable sources. The standard provides more stringent penalties for failing to meet the requirements; the objective requires a good faith effort to meet it.

Committee Chair Prettner Solon has suggested that these bills will be merged into a single bill based on stakeholder agreement. It would appear that they will delete-all of S.F. 4 (Anderson's bill) and create a new whole new RES or REO proposal based on the pieces of the existing four. They will use S.F. 4 out of deference to Senator Anderson who has worked on this issue for 6 years. A group of stakeholders is meeting to guide this process.

I'm not really sure how this all works; Senator Dibble was also a bit concerned and wanted to make sure the Committee would still discuss the big issues. I think the idea is for the stakeholders to work behind the scenes to make it easier for the committee to create a popular, effective bill.

The rest of this post will cover the discussion in the committee as the bills were officially introduced and my thoughts on the issues that each brings up. Don Davis wrote an article for The Forum news about these bills also.

Senator Anderson introduced S.F. 4 first. She noted that mandating renewable energy helps the economy, saying it creates 40% more jobs per unit of energy when compared to fossil fuels. Later she said Minnesota lost 1000 good jobs on the Iron Range because a wind company chose Pennsylvania instead because it had a more aggressive standard than us. Also, Minnesota imports more electricity than any other state (apparently 1000 MW from Canada (Manitoba Hydro) and 1000 MW from the Dakotas alone).

Anderson tackled the big question in front of the committee - objective or standard? Minnesota's current "objective" is unique; many other states have embraced the standard. She noted that her bill features an "offramp" which I'll quote:

The commission must delay or modify the standard for an electric utility if it finds that
compliance with a standard is not in the public interest because compliance will either
produce undesirable impacts on the reliability of the utility's system or on the utility's
ratepayers or if it finds that compliance is not technically feasible.

Those who say that a standard is too inflexible often fail to note that the PUC can excuse a utility which has good reasons for failing to meet the requirements. Anderson suggested that the "good faith effort" language of the REO is too lax and difficult to interpret. The Department of Commerce objects to this, saying they have defined what a good faith effort is - more on that debate in a later post.

Senator Anderson's last argument for the word 'standard' argued that the "word in law" matters. The very word 'standard' sends a clear signal to wind developers that Minnesota will be a reliable market for them.

One of Anderson's other changes with S.F. 4 is to limit eligible renewable facilities to those built after 1974. She justifies this, saying we need to reduce emissions, stimulate jobs, and avoid disadvantaging some utilities over others.

Senator Anderson finished by saying this will not cost ratepayers more. It will save them money in the long term because "we all know the cost of coal will go up." This relies upon Congress creating either a cap & trade program for carbon emissions or implementing a carbon tax. Though she didn't phrase it in these terms, she was basically saying that those the wind strength may be variable, its cost is not. The fuel for wind turbines will remain zero cost for the life of the turbine.

Anderson's bill was followed by S.F. 129, introduced by Senator Tomassoni. Because the committee is hearing only RES specific provisions now, they are only discussing sections 2-7.

I feel that this is the weakest bill by a considerable margin, despite being a standard rather than an objective. First, I'll summarize Tomassoni's comments.

He started by pushing for the IGCC coal plant, saying that even with renewables, we still need coal and IGCC lends itself well to sequestion (capturing the carbon dioxide emissions and storing them deep underground). Greg Oxley, from the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association then argued that utilities cannot meet 25% by 2020. He said they don't have enough transmission or time to build the needed amount.

To those who say we cannot make 25% by 2020, I refer you to John Tuma's post on Loon Commons which essentially reminded the committee that no one thought we could hit the moon in 10 years when Kennedy told us we were going to.

Tomassoni's bill suffers from many weaknesses and I hope it is mostly ignored when the committee puts together the final RES/REO proposal. Weaknesses include:

  • Instead of a list of eligible renewable technologies, it says all renewable energy technologies may be counted. Thus, the PUC will have to decide if hydrogen produced by natural gas counts as being renewable or not (for example). This is not a good idea.
  • 20% by 2020 is too lax. If we are not going to push as hard as possible, let's use Governor Pawlenty's 25% by 2025.
  • My favorite: the penalty for noncompliance cannot be more than the amount the utility would have expended to meet the requirements. This is not an incentive to meet the requirements. Penalties should exceed the cost of compliance (though we need an offramp like the one proposed by Anderson).
  • Finally, this bill significantly limits what evidence the PUC can use when considering the offramp provision - giving a big advantage to the utilities.

Committee Chair Prettner Solon next introduced one of her bills, S.F. 145 and Mike Bull, Deputy Commissioner for the DoC discussed it. Like S.F. 129, this is an omnibus bill and the committee is only looking at sections 2-8 currently.

Bull noted that this is the most progressive energy package ever by a Minnesota Senator - something to which Anderson later agreed. She and Bull actually complimented each other several times as the committee exuded bipartisan vibes.

At any rate, Bull noted that the Governor would prefer signing an omnibus bill but recognizes the committee will do as the committee will do. This bill calls for a 25% objective by 2025 with a fine of $.05 per kilowatt/hour of unmet requirements when utiliies do not meet the good faith effort bar. The PUC may count large hydroelectric sources if absolutely necessary (large hydro is usually not counted due to the damage to surrounding ecosystems). Compliance fines would be used to fund renewable energy projects in Minnesota.

Senator Dibble questioned what new generation would be if the Governor's proposal is implemented because it counts renewable sources built before 1975. The committee is supposed to be informed how this breaks down - essentially, the question is how many renewable MW MN has from before 1975.

Chair Prettner Solon then introduced S.F. 74 - an objective with blank % to be met by blank. The idea is to figure out the max we can do and fill in the blank with those numbers. It also allows the PUC to increase the requirement for some utilities who are better poised to add renewable capacity than others. This is a unique idea though I wonder if the PUC would actually do that.

The other major unique provision for this bill is that it allows utilities that go above and beyond the required CIP (Conservation improvement programs - these are intended to reduce electricity demand) to get credit toward their objective requirement. This could be tricky in practice to measure.

Wow. That was fun. Another exciting Saturday night for me. If you read this far, thank you. There will be more coming eventually.

Coal rush runs into some hurdles

NPR had a story this morning talking about the rush to build coal plants in the U.S. and around the world. Apparently, costs have rapidly increased in recent months due to material and human resource shortages. Engineering firms with the knowhow to design new plants are maxed out at the moment, largely due to all the building going on in China. The article mentions one utility in Kansas that has seen the capital cost estimate for a new coal plant rising from $1 billion to $1.4 billion in just 18 months.

The article also discusses how the possibility of a future carbon tax is giving state regulators pause before approving new coal plants. All of this should at least give added incentive for utilities and regulators to consider renewable energy and conservation, which is good news.

Senate Energy Committee Meets

The Minnesota Senate Energy Committee (technically, Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee) met on Thursday for the first time. It will regularly meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 - 4:30 in Room 123 of Capitol.

The new chair is Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL 07). Ellen Anderson, the previous DFL chair has moved to chair the Finance - Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Budget Division Committee. The meeting started with the requisite round of introductions. Several members admitted to being science geeks - something I was rather surprised by. Have we computer geeks so normalized 'geekhood'?

Chair Prettner Solon started with a number of the questions she expected to deal with in the future. The one I found most interesting was the question of the ideal amount of renewable generation we want in the system. I have focused for so long on getting more, I never really gave much thought to how much is enough...

At any rate, Chair Prettner Solon outlined a rough schedule for passing an REO or RES. Two bills are scheduled to be discussed on Thursday, 18 January. They will discuss S.F. 4 and S.F. 74. Both relate the RES/REO. If no one else checks them out in depth, I will do so before Thursday. Chair Prettner Solon hopes to vote on the bills by 25 January or earlier if possible.

The PUC representatives announced that the M-RETS (Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System) request for proposals is due today and they hope to have the renewable credit tracking program running by July. As a software geek, I wish them well but never expect software to be delivered on time.

There was some talk about the recent WindLogics study of integrating wind power into the grid. While the costs are remarkably low for integrating up to 25%, the study did not include any costs resulting from increasing transmission capacity. Thus, the study is still good news for wind, but hard work remains.

Assistant Commissioner Mike Bull from the Department of Commerce reported on the current status of the renewable energy objective (REO) in Minnesota. Overall, the news is good but his study is incomplete. The DoC will release a report on 16 Jan that has the full results of who is complying.

The news on the REO is quite good overall as Bull reported that the utilities that provide more than 90% of power in Minnesota have been found to be in compliance and an additional 7% are in review. He also noted that there is a misconception that the REO is voluntary. He said it is required but also noted that some utilities have more difficulty that others based upon their changing demand (rate of increase or decrease).

Update: Loon Commons has a post discussing MEP's view on the Committee

House Energy Committee Meets

The Minnesota House Energy Finance and Policy Division Committee met for the first time on Wednesday, 10 Jan. The minutes are not posted yet, but I attended the meeting and had a few notes.

Representative Hilty (DFL 08A) chairs the committee and suggested the committee will be meeting on promptly on time whether he is there or not. After a brief round of introductions, a man from House Research presented the recent history of energy legislation in Minnesota. I did not catch his name and it is not yet on the Committee website.

Deputy Commissioner Garvey from the Department of Commerce (of the combined Energy and Telecommunications Division) and Assistant Deputy Mike Bull then presented Governor Pawlenty's energy plan. They are making efficiency a cornerstone of the plan.

There are 3 broad parts of the plan. I tried to follow as best I could between the presentation and the questions but I may have confused a point or two.

The efficiency proposals include a 15% reduction in fossil fuel usage in Minnesota by 2015. After a question on how this would be measured, Deputy Commissioner Garvey suggested it would be measured on a per capita basis (rather than taking 15% off the fossil fuels we used this year).

I poked around a bit and I think the Minnesota population is expected to grow by about 500,000 people in that time. From what I can tell, this means we will be absolutely decreasing the amount of fossil fuels used by 2015 (if we meet the goal), but not by as much as we would expect from the 15% figure.

They want to change the CIP program (currently requiring utilities to spend x% on increased efficiency and load management) to requiring a 1.5% reduction in growth each year. I expect this will be quite difficult for the utilities operating in the sub and exurbs around the Twin Cities where growth is rapid. This cannot be popular among many utilities.

The third piece of efficiency is a massive increase in the number of energy star buildings in Minnesota.

Garvey went on to discuss the "Less Carbon" aspects of the Governor's plan. It includes working with other Governors in the region to achieve reductions, joining the Chicago Climate Exchange (or similar registry), requiring offsets for new fossil fuel generation facilities, and having the Center for Climate Strategies (I believe Garvey misidentified this group, saying it was from D.C., they are actually out of PA) develop a strategy. They have helped other governments create similar plans.

Finally, Mike Bull presented the Governor's proposal on strengthening the REO (Renewable Energy Objective - asks utilities to generate x% of their energy from renewable sources). The Governor wants to put a financial penalty into the REO and increase it to 25% by 2025.

The proposed financial penalty was 5 cents/MWhour if the utility does not make a good faith effort toward meeeting the REO. I may have missed some of the details here because I'm not sure if that penalty was per day or not.

The Governor remains opposed to a more stringent Renewable Energy Standard (RES or RPS depending on who you ask). They fear it could hurt the economy and therefore want an REO with more flexibility.

Mike Bull suggested the DoC will be releasing a report next week that details the progress of utilities under the current REO.

Xcel Expands Coal

Two months ago, we discussed Xcel Energy and its support for a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS definition). We also mentioned that Dick Kelley, CEO of Xcel said it would not be building any more conventional coal plants (after Comanche 3 in Colorado).

A recent story in the St. Cloud Times suggests Xcel will certainly be expanding its use of traditional coal even if it does not technically build new plants. Xcel wants to expand its largest coal production facility in Minnesota by 140 MW.

Update: The comments below corrected this story - looks like Xcel will not be increasing the amount of coal it uses, but rather the efficiency of the plant.

The Sherco Plant "is the largest in terms of square feet, steam production, power generation capability and coal consumption" according to Xcel. It already burns 30,000 tons of coal per day.

Xcel says it will cut the emissions of criteria pollutants (mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulates). Nonetheless, this will certainly increase its carbon dioxide emissions - the main contributer to human-caused greenhouse gas accumulation.

The PUC will decide whether to allow Xcel to continue or not in 2008.

Update: As noted above, this story is in error. Xcel will not be increasing carbon dioxide emissions.

Coastal Oil Drilling Incentives Offer Little

 

 

 

The New York Times is reporting that a U.S. Department of the Interior report ("Incentives on Oil Barely Help U.S.", delayed for over a year, estimates that off-shore drilling incentives for the Gulf of Mexico do little to induce additional supply.

"But industry analysts who compare oil policies around the world said the United States was much more generous to oil companies than most other countries, demanding a smaller share of revenues than others that let private companies drill on public lands and in public waters. In addition, they said, the United States has sweetened some of its incentives in recent years, while dozens of other countries demanded a bigger share of revenue."

 

Oil Op-Ed

Election season came and went, but talk of weaning ourselves from “foreign” oil remains.  As we may have permanently passed the era of cheap oil, the United States must develop a strategy to insulate itself from oil shocks.  However, talk of “foreign” oil is both deceptive and unhelpful. 

For economic reasons, the price of oil is essentially the same everywhere.  Thus, it really does not matter from where we purchase oil if we continue to require so much of it.  If something happens in Saudi Arabia or Nigeria, it raises the cost of oil everywhere.  Because the Persian Gulf contains half of all the oil in the world, events that impact production there will impact consumers here regardless of whether they sell it to us or not. 

 Some have used high oil prices and foreign entanglements to say we need to more nuclear power or renewable energy to create energy security.  While there are arguments for both, neither really has anything to do with the price of oil because oil is used for transportation, not electrical generation.  We must avoid this bait-and-switch approach to energy discussions.   

 Scapegoating “foreign” oil may be politically popular, but it does nothing to help Americans dealing with volatile prices.  Due to the nature of the world market, if we want to develop energy security, we must lessen our dependence on oil in general. 

 Here in corn country, we are told that ethanol will lessen oil dependence.  Unfortunately, ethanol would not do enough to reduce dependence even if we used all domestic corn production to make it.  Ethanol will thus be a small part of a multi-pronged solution. 

 Some are waiting for plug-in hybrids from automakers.  These cars would reduce our oil dependence by relying upon the electrical grid for power.  Unfortunately, we have to wait 5-10 years for the cars to hit the market and another 10-15 for plug-in hybrids to make up a measurable percentage of the fleet.  As with ethanol, this will help only at the margins. 

 The best solution lies in driving more efficient cars less frequently.  This strategy requires no technological breakthrough and should have been implemented years ago.  Government programs must provide incentives for fuel-efficient cars, regardless of the underlying technology.  Cars that achieve better than 40 miles per gallon should be rewarded regardless of how that efficiency is achieved.  Existing programs may reward people who purchase 19 mpg SUVs despite the fact that their vehicles are grossly inefficient. 

 The American auto industry has long claimed that forcing higher fuel efficiencies on vehicles will drive the up the cost of vehicles.  Yet, we now see a domestic auto industry that is dying because it cannot produce fuel efficient vehicles.  Raising fuel efficiency standards is long overdue. 

 Increasing fuel efficiency may create problems though because people may drive more as driving becomes cheaper.  This is a well known economic phenomenon that is quite annoying for policymakers.

 Americans must therefore change their driving habits.  We need to invest heavily in mass transit options and to reduce car dependence.  Only by driving less frequently can we reduce our oil dependence.  The question is whether we embrace such changes or wait for increased oil prices to force them upon us. 

 One does not need to believe in the peak-oil theory to see higher gas prices looming on the horizon.  The oil market is already tight and demand around the world appears to be rising faster than producers can pump it. 

 Even if the major oil producing countries are able to maintain their output, demand in China and India will ensure a rising price.  As Iraq’s civil war further destabilizes the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters may see successful terrorist attacks on oil infrastructure. 

 No one knows what will happen with Iran.  Due to its geography, it can halt 90% of oil exports from the Persian Gulf and has threatened to do so if the U.S. acts against Iran’s nuclear program. 

 Rapidly increasing oil prices are probable in the future.  Insulating ourselves from the shock will take years to begin and decades to complete.  We cannot afford to wait for future technological solutions.  We need responsible government policy now in the form of convenient mass transit and vehicles with much greater efficiency. 

EPA revising fuel efficiency ratings method

 

 

The New York Times and NPR are reporting on the EPA's proposed revisions to the vehicle mileage rating methodology that populates the sticker on new cars with city and highway miles-per-gallon (mpg) numbers. The main changes? Faster highway driving and air conditioning.

USAToday reports that it won't affect CAFE standard calculations.

But it's not clear that this will do anything...Do consumers care? The Consumer Federation is convinced they do...so is the Sierra Club...as does Jesus. But the Star Tribune reported earlier in November that fuel economy ranked 18th out of 56 things in considering a new car, behind cupholders and the sound system.

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