CAFE Standards: Our Biggest Energy Conservation Measure

In my previous blog (‘The Beginnings of a U.S. Energy Policy’) I stated my belief that recent U.S. Congresses have been ‘dysfunctional’ with regard to energy policy and that it was quite different in the 1970’s when Democrats and Republicans worked together to pass energy legislation. My example was the passage of the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act which I participated in as a Senate staffer.  An important title of that Act was labeled ‘Corporate Average Fuel Economy’ which came to be more popularly known as CAFE.   This bill was signed into law in December 1975 and remained unamended until 2007, 32 years later, when the CAFE standards for new car fleets were increased slightly.  At that time I decided to write down some of the history of CAFE, recognizing that it was the most important energy conservation legislation passed to date, that only a few people knew that history first hand, and that I was getting a ‘bit long in the tooth’ and might forget a few details.  The resulting piece, published in the ‘Physics and Society’ e-newsletter that October, is attached (The Origins of CAFE).  It adds a bit to history and demonstrates that cooperation between our two political parties is possible when the long-term national interest is driving both. Recent changes to CAFE will further enhance its impact.






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