The U.S. Senate has decided that it is easier and more profitable to coddle a spoiled, ineffective domestic automotive industry than it is to invest in the future.
This article is a gross distortion of the truth, and it's ironic and hypocritical that it makes such accusations of others. It gives you only the idealistic, unrealistic environmentalist point of view on this issue. The truth in this issue is that trying to make the auto industry keep to an average of thirty-six miles per gallon will have one of two real effects on the industry. The first option is that the auto industry stops offering SUVs and every American really is forced to drive a smaller car, which is unlikely. The second, more likely, and slightly horrific option is that the auto industry will continue to make SUVs under that standard and that Americans will continue to buy the type of car that they prefer (SUVs), but they will be built with materials that have all the defensive capability of sheet paper. Short of some miraculous breakthrough that revolutionizes the entire way that cars are built and how they work, the way that you get more miles per gallon out of a bigger car is to make it with flimsier materials, and with a 50% fuel efficiency hike in addition to what has already been done to SUVs, that's a whole lot of corpses resulting from this legislation. With how many accidents there are that involve SUVs every day in the United States, a weakening of the defensive capability of SUVs across the board would probably dwarf the Firestone Tires scandal in body count in a month or two.
The politicians in this case were forced to look at the reality of the issue, which Alarmist failed to do. The reality of this bill, beyond its friendly environmentalist appearance, was that it was a covert attempt to ban all larger automobiles (an idea that Alarmist called "a gross distortion of the truth", despite later going on to talk at length about the horrors of SUVs), either by making them too unsafe for the auto industry to make, or by killing enough Americans to force the auto industry to stop making them. I doubt that the latter ever occurred to the writers of the amendment, but that was definitely one of its two possible outcomes, as well as the most likely outcome to take place. Thus, the politicians weren't acting under bribes from the auto industry as everyone leaps to claim about every bill that seems to do any good for an industry, but instead were acting under the common sense that making something inherently unsafe in order to ban it via a loophole is exactly the sort of bastardly thing that politicians are supposed to keep themselves from doing. Just because the auto industry lobbied against this bill doesn't mean that it was some brilliant champion of environmentalism that was being shot down by corrupt politicians. All this bill was was an idiotic, ignorantly written bill that didn't make any sense and would not have worked in practice. It was purely ignorant bullshit.
I've also noticed that many people in the comments here have been saying that the real answer is for the government to tax the price of gas to make it prohibitively expensive. Please, people, use your heads. Yes, such legislation would reduce the use of cars to a small degree, and possibly cause some people to opt for smaller cars (though past natural price hikes in the market have not shown this effect). But if you'd care to think beyond that single logical step, you'd also notice that the rich would still be driving their 2002 Ford Ghidorah ten-seater Sports Utility Monster Truck around everywhere without a hitch while poorer families across the country were having their financial backs broken by the fact that they have to commute to work every day and can't afford to buy anything newer and more fuel efficient than their 1985 Ford POS Pick-Up. Such legislation would not force people to drive less, because most people use their cars far more often for things like commuting to work, going to the grocery store, and picking their kids up at school than for enjoyment. All that it would do is put a larger burden on the middle and lower classes without really changing any of the current affects on the environment caused by automobiles.
Want a real solution? Instead of making SUVs too unsafe to drive or collecting more taxes, the government should hand some more of that tax money back to the people that are choosing to drive smaller cars. I think they already give people tax breaks for smaller cars, but the tax break should be a lot bigger. When a smaller car costs not only less, but much, MUCH less than an SUV to buy, that's when you'll see more small cars on the road. People don't care about a small price incentive and they don't care to think out how much less a small car costs them in the long run. They opt for the cheaper, smaller car when they compare the prices and think, "Holy shit! This thing is cheap!". It's not a perfect solution, but I think it's the sort of small, incremental step we need to take to get fewer unnecessary SUVs on the road without hurting the average citizen in a serious physical or financial way.