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New fuel standards and you

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By Ralph Damiani

While state officials are applauding the Obama administration’s plan for curbing vehicle emissions and requiring manufacturers to make vehicles that are more fuel efficient, we hope you all know that we have lost some more freedoms.

It seems that the government can take away one freedom after another and we hardly notice.

The freedom you lost this time was the one to make a personal choice.

Without a doubt vehicles that are more fuel-efficent are a good thing. But to simply have the government “decree” that we all have to live there is simply wrong.

If you want to get more fuel-efficient vehicles, then let the market dictate that by letting fuel prices go to $5 a gallon. Thereby, if you want to save money and help the environment, you can make that choice.

But if for some reason you like big vehicles and want one - despite how much you pay for it or fuel - that should be your choice.

But not under President Obama. He - and big brother - know what is best for all of us and it is smaller cars, no matter what you like or are willing to pay for.

The federal proposal calls for the auto industry to build vehicles that average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

Great. But too bad if you don’t want a small car. And it will not be cheaper.

The proposed fuel and emission standards for cars and trucks reportedly will save billions of barrels of oil. Unfortunately these vehicles are expected to cost consumers an extra $1,300 per new vehicle.

Now, the president said that estimated fuel cost savings will offset the higher price of the vehicles in three years.

Assuming of course that fuel prices don’t go to $5 a gallon anyway.

Which they will as lower demand will mean lower income for the oil companies, which they will make up for in higher prices.

But, New Mexico officials are cheering the ruling.

We are one of 14 states that has been embroiled in a battle with the federal government and automakers over emissions standards. The states sought to enact more stringent standards than current federal standards, but automakers protested the patchwork of rules.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refused to give in to the states.

The Associated Press reported that the plan announced by President Obama effectively ends the feud.

“President Obama’s new fuel efficiency and tailpipe emission standards are a great victory for our state because New Mexico’s clean car rules now become a national effort,” Gov. Richardson said.

The proposed federal standards parallel clean car rules approved by state regulators and complement what New Mexico and the other states have been fighting for, said state Environment Secretary Ron Curry.

Curry described Obama’s announcement as “a huge event,” and urged people to consider buying hybrid vehicles.

It is hard to argue against clean air. What we will say is that we do not think that vehicles that get lower mileage must by defination be dirty and polute the environment more. They just use more gas.

And if you are willing to pay that higher cost, it should by your right to make that choice.

But not under President Obama.

While requiring that vehicle carbon dioxide emissions be reduced by about one-third by 2016, the standards still must clear procedural hurdles at the EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

New Mexico and other states also joined California when it sued the EPA last year for denying its greenhouse gas limits on cars, trucks and SUVs.

With the president’s announcement, Curry said implementation of the new federal standards could happen sooner if New Mexico and the other states had waited for courts to settle the matter.

That much is good, as are clean air standards that make the environment better.

But so casually taking away our rights without a second thought, is not the kind of society we thought we were living in.

Welcome to President Obama’s world.