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December 22, 2007

Will New Fuel Laws Boost Houston Economy?

It may, according to some analysts, as the law's requirements of less safe, less popular cars with higher fuel efficiency kick in.

For automakers, tougher fuel economy laws signed by President Bush this week represent a big challenge. For Houston's petrochemical industry, they could mean big business.

To hit the targets, automakers not only will need to develop more efficient engine technologies, but reduce the weight of vehicles, a shift that could open the door for greater use of plastics.

Chemical plants in this region produce many of the raw plastics that already are being used to make auto components.

"Materials manufactured at our facilities in Texas and many other areas of the world will be instrumental in meeting customer needs and new industry standards," said Steve Henderson, president of the Americas for Dow Automotive in Auburn Hills, Mich. The company has manufacturing sites in Freeport, Seadrift and LaPorte that produce materials used in automotive components.

But while chemical companies see opportunity ahead, others see limits to how much plastic and other lightweight materials can be added to vehicles without compromising safety or increasing costs.

Of course the new law is going to compromise safety. Of course it is going to raise costs of vehicles even further. But damn it, it is going to get us to 35 MPG like the greenie-weenies insist we must in order to be in compliance with the dogma of the religion of global warming as proclaimed by the Prophet Al Gore.

But on the bright side, it will boost the local economy, even as more Americans die on the roads and highways of America.





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