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An Easy Way to Waste Less Energy

By Thane Peterson

Happily, the market is now also providing far more fuel-efficient SUVs. Ford's new hybrid Escape, due out late this year, will get about 40 mpg with acceleration comparable to the current 6-cylinder version. The RAV 4 electric version gets the equivalent of 112 mpg. Clearly, the problem isn't SUVs as a category. It's that most people buy larger, less energy-efficient vehicles than they really need.

Americans have become so prolifigate that it wouldn't take much to make dramatic cuts in energy consumption. One approach would be to raise gasoline taxes (while making sure lower-income consumers get a corresponding break). Or the federal government could increase the corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards, which haven't changed since 1985. Those rules now mandate that new passenger cars average at least 27.5 mpg, while light trucks have a much weaker 20.7-mpg standard. Surely, automotive technology ha

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