I'm a bit less impressed than Brad with CAP's energy plan, but I think that's because it's not, in fact, an energy plan, but a set of responses to soaring oil prices. For some reason, I didn't read the title ("A Progressive Response to High Oil and Gasoline Prices") and was sur[rised at how unambitious it was. Moral of the story? Read titles. Anyway, I'm rambling, here's the plan:
• Scrap and Replace: Less affluent drivers tend to stick with old, inefficient cars for much longer than we'd hope simply because they can't afford the replacement costs. If we could motivate them to switch to newer vehicles, the fuel savings would be tremendous. The CAP plan offers two options. In one, the government purchases an extremely large number of fuel-efficient cars and leases them at enormously favorable terms to qualifying individuals. Added bonus: CAP doesn't mention this, but it could act as an excellent bail-out for the struggling American auto industry, particularly if the government forced them to compete to build and bring to market a cheap, fuel-efficient vehicle for use in the program. That could get Detroit behind this plan, which'd be a huge help.
Option two is government provided credit for folks scrapping and replacing old cars. Good terms, the government acts as guarantor, etc. Not a bad plan, but the first option is much more interesting.
• Feebates: I'm a big fan of these, you can read my longer post advocating them over a gas tax here. The basic idea is that potential drivers making a multi-thousand dollar purchase rarely take fuel efficiency into account, and particularly don't if the differences are small. A feebate adds fuel efficiency to the sticker price by adding a few thousand bucks onto the price of inefficient cars and subtracting the same from efficient cars. You can do this on a sliding mpg scale if you want, i/e, 28 mpg nets a $1,000 rebate while 38 mpg gets $2,000 and 40 gets $3,000.