Consumers Buy the Darndest Things

Afraid that their vote to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration might make Congress more likely to increase fuel efficiency standards, the automobile industry is "trying to polish its image." The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is claiming, in newspaper and radio ads, and on cleaning sponges given to Congressional staffers, that "cars are 99% cleaner than they used to be." (The Union of Concerned Scientists calls the Auto Alliance campaign "highly misleading.") An Auto Alliance spokesperson said increased fuel standards would be "very difficult to achieve," because of the popularity of large vehicles. "It's not what we manufacture; it's what consumers buy," she said.