In his SOTU speech earlier this year, Bush proposed updating and reforming CAFE standards. Skeptical? Good. You’re not stupid.

As I wrote here, one of his reforms is to make the whole CAFE system "attribute-based," meaning different mileage standards would apply to different classes of vehicles based on their, um, attributes — mainly size. This would make things unnecessarily complicated and perpetuate the double standard that has encouraged the domination of ginormous SUVs for the last decade. Under Bush’s plan, the double standard would become a multiple-standard, an open sop to the Big Three automakers.

Anyway, that was just my opinion, and as we all know, opinions are like … blogs. Everybody’s got one.

Now Environmental Leader brings word of a new study (PDF) from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. Its conclusions:

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• An attribute-based CAFE would mean lower standards for Detroit’s automakers. Under a size-based standard of 35 mpg, the Big Three could be required to meet a 33-mpg standard, while the rest of the industry would have to meet a 38-mpg standard.

• An attribute-based CAFE yields greater gains in market share and profits for the Big Three than for the rest of the industry. Detroit automakers stand to receive more of the profit gains from higher CAFE because they will be making improvements that have higher market value and higher profit margins.

Higher CAFE standards yield higher profits. The strongest CAFE proposal currently under consideration in Congress (Markey-Platts) provides the greatest profit for Detroit automakers. GM, Ford and Chrysler have projected profits of $14.4 billion by 2017 — more than twice as much than the weaker proposal under consideration (Hill-Terry).

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