Then there’s the aluminum lobby. The Aluminum Association has been lobbying on fuel economy standards, lobbying disclosures show. For many parts, carmakers choose between aluminum and steel. Aluminum is lighter weight and more expensive. Fuel-efficiency mandates push carmakers toward aluminum components over steel ones.
This tells us two things about the hidden costs of these regulations. First, it reminds us that these regulations make cars more expensive to make and thus to buy. This is normal for environmental regulations.
Second, it reminds us that the manufacture of lighter-weight cars can actually cause higher greenhouse gas emissions than the manufacture of heavier cars. The high-heat smelting process involved in aluminum uses tons of energy, and the chemical process that follows inevitably gives off potent greenhouse gases. So measuring the tailpipe emissions only, as the U.S. rules do, misses much of the environmental impact of using aluminum to comply with fuel economy standards.
J.W. Verret – a GMU colleague of mine from over in the law school – applauds, as a move in the right direction, the Trump administration’s restructuring of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau .