FC: Raise fuel efficiency standards, kill Americans?

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Tue Mar 12 2002 - 16:33:08 PST

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    March 12, 2002
    WASHINGTON--Sens. Tom Daschle, D-SD, and John Kerry, D-MA, conceded
    today that they lacked the votes in the Senate to pass a major
    increase in the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards.
    Jerry Taylor, director of natural resour ces studies at the Cato
    Institute, called it "a tremendous victory for human health and the
    economy."  He had the following comments:
    "Environmentalists who supported an expansion of CAFE standards for
    cars and light trucks are allowing their hostility to energy use to
    override their common sense.  For instance, the National Academy of
    Sciences reported last year that the current standards are directly
    responsible for the deaths of 1,300 - 2,600 motorists a year.  That's
    because automakers find that the cheapest way of incr easing fuel
    efficiency is to reduce the size and weight of the cars they sell,
    making them more dangerous to motorists in a crash. Dramatically
    expanding CAFE standards would accelerate this trend and would
    directly result in the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of
    "While the costs of expanding CAFE standards is steep, the benefits
    are ephemer al.  Expanded standards certainly wouldn't reduce foreign
    oil imports.  For instance, since the CAFE standards were first
    introduced, the average fuel economy more than doubled for new cars
    and grew by more than 50 percent for new light trucks, but imported
    oil has increased from 35 to 52 percent of U.S. consumptio n. Reducing
    oil demand would remove the most expensive oil sources from the mar
    ket first, and foreign oil is the cheapest oil supply source in the
    world. Dome stic producers, not foreign oil producers, would be hit
    hardest if gasoline demand were to decline.
    "Nor would an expanded CAFE standard do much about global
    warming. Gasoline con sumption in the United States is only
    responsible for 1.5 percent of all human- related greenhouse gas
    emissions. The EPA reports that expanded CAFE standards wont
    appreciably change that figure.
    "If people want to drive fuel efficient cars, that's their right.  But
    forcing people in cars they don't otherwise wish to drive -- or indirectly
    taxing them through the regulatory standards for not choosing to
    drive cars that environmentalists like is not only wrong, it's
    Jerry Taylor is available for comment at 202-789-5240. To schedule an
    interview , please contact Joan Kirby at 202-789-5266.
    The Cato Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan public policy research
    foundation dedicated to broadening policy debate consistent with the
    traditional American principles of individual liberty, limited
    government, free markets, and peace.
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