IN the Boston Globe Jeff Jacoby thinks through the economics of fuel economy.

When gas was cheap environmentalists wanted expensive gas to encourage less driving or more fuel efficient technologies. Instead of cheering $4 gas, however, they cursed oil companies.

Yet subsidizing fuel efficient technologies will make driving cheaper, thus encouraging people to drive more, ultimately using more energy. This will drive down the price of oil and also encourage its use.

Advocating higher oil prices is politically unpopular, so now environmentalists advocate lower fuel prices and less energy consumption. These are mutually exclusive goals.

This recession has done more to reduce fuel consumption than most other environmental policies. Politicians tend to take credit for solving problems that are already solving themselves.

See all of Jacoby’s article here.