I don't know if you've been following the machinations of the energy bill recently passed by the U.S. House, but it's big news here in the Detroit area, where Snips is based.

As part of its push to decrease America's reliance on oil, especially from foreign and sometimes-hostile countries, it hikes the fuel economy standards for U.S.-built cars from the current 27.5 mpg to 35 mpg by 2020. The big automakers have been able to avoid such increases for over 30 years.

In much of the country, increasing fuel economy seems like a no-brainer, according to newspaper editorials and polls. However, in the Motor City, carmakers have long pointed out that despite the establishment of mileage rules in 1975, Americans have continued to devour oil and gas. The rules are a failure in their opinion, even as many cars now exceed 30 or 35 mpg on the highway.

I see something similar happening with the push to allow regional standards in HVAC equipment. It has split some members of the industry, with some fighting it and others accepting the rule, hoping they can make the inevitable more favorable to manufacturers.

I support state rights in a lot of issues, but requiring equipment that many consumers view as a commodity to meet state-specific standards strikes me as the wrong way to go. I doubt consumers will understand it, especially when the new national seasonal-efficiency standards just went into effect in 2006.

I don't know that it will lead to a black market where less-efficient -- and cheaper -- equipment is bought in one state and transported to another, but it's possible.

Do any of you have an opinion?