New Fuel Efficiency Standards Won't Reach Goals

NCPA Expert Says New Fuel Efficiency Regulations may Result in Premature Death and Demise of Auto Industry

Dallas (April 5, 2010) - President Obama's finalized tougher gas mileage standards for new cars and trucks seems intent on pushing policies that will result in increased production of smaller, less safe cars, and that could bode ill for the auto industry, said H. Sterling Burnett, Senior Fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

"Research shows that in any kind of accident, small cars are less safe than larger cars, on average, and that's exactly what the administration's new fuel economy standards will put all but the wealthiest Americans into," Dr. Burnett said.

Burnett noted that data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety states that size and weight reductions undertaken to meet current fuel economy standards had resulted in more than 46,000 deaths.

The heads of the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency set fuel efficiency targets to 35.5 miles per gallon for new passenger vehicles and light trucks by 2016, which is four years earlier than required in the 2007 energy bill. This is the first time the EPA issued rules on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions after a 2007 Supreme Court decision.

"This is part of President Obama's plan to cut CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change and ease U.S. dependence on oil," Burnett continued. "However, there is no conceivable way this will have the effects they intend."

In past years, CAFE forced auto manufacturers to meet certain mileage standards in order to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil or pay a fuel consumption tax for vehicles not in compliance, Burnett points out. Since 1974, domestic new car fuel economy has increased 114 percent, and light truck fuel economy has increased 56 percent. Yet over this same period, imported oil has risen from 35 percent of the oil consumed in the U. S. in 1974 to nearly 60 percent today.

"As with so many other moves made by this administration much hype has surrounded the proposed policy," Burnett said. "This particular plan will limit consumers' freedom and raise the cost of vehicles by thousands of dollars, which would devastate the already faltering auto industry."