Mr. Ken Kitzing's letter to the editor on Oct. 9 drove me to do some research on the new federal standards for auto fuel efficiency. Mr. Kitzing suggested that in order to meet the standards cars would have to be powered by "subminiature nuclear fission" or solar power, and that the automotive future will include families stranded by the side of the road because their car's electric battery ran out and tanks full of natural gas erupting in geysers of flame on area expressways.
A little research dispels such worries. I'm not going to summarize it all, since it seems most useful for those who are interested to do their own research; the information is readily available. But the gist is this: the new standards are historically tough; they are a result of a compromise between the government, the automakers and the Green Police. Hang on a minute, a compromise was successfully worked out among disagreeing parties? That's good news in itself! It will force some changes in how cars are made; not all classes of vehicles will have to meet the 54.5 mpg standard; and car prices will be going up. But fuel costs will be going down, and if gas prices stay high, it should offset the increased cost (depending on whom you ask).
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There are articles online about the sorts of changes that might be made in cars to meet these standards. Solar panels and nuclear fission (subminiature or otherwise) have received no attention. Some vehicles on the road are already successfully powered by natural gas. There is no doubt that the new regulations will bring changes to American cars. Perhaps time will show the regulations to be unworkable, or perhaps they will bring about welcome savings to our pockets and purity to our air.