Energy Bill Amendments on Fuel Efficiency Ignore Safety Issue

Energy Bill Amendments on Fuel Efficiency Ignore Safety Issue

Would Make Federal Fuel Economy Standards Even Deadlier
June 15, 2005


<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Jody Clarke, 202.331.2252

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Washington, D.C., June 15, 2005—As the Senate debates an energy bill this week, amendments are expected to be introduced that would drastically increase fuel economy standards, without regard to technological feasibility or the safety of America’s drivers.


An amendment being offered by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), for example, requires the Bush administration to develop measures to reduce foreign oil imports by 40 percent by the year 2025, which the Competitive Enterprise Institute believes is an unrealistic goal. The Cantwell amendment calls for a reduction of 1 million barrels of oil a day by 2014 and a reduction of almost 8 million barrels per day in 2025.  By some estimates, this would require almost a tripling of passenger car fuel efficiency. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is also expected to again introduce an amendment to raise light truck fuel efficiency to that of cars.


“These attempts to increase fuel economy all have one thing in common.  They totally ignore the lethal of effect of higher fuel economy standards, which reduce crashworthiness by restricting vehicle size and mass,” says Sam Kazman, CEI’s general counsel.  “In 2001 the National Academy of Sciences found that current fuel economy standards already contribute to thousands of fatalities per year, and more stringent standards would only increase that death toll. The case for higher standards rests on public ignorance of that fact.” 


A 2002 CEI poll (,02405.cfm) found that, once people learn of the National Academy’s findings, a 48% plurality oppose higher standards. In 1992 CEI won a federal appeals court ruling that the U.S. Department of Transportation had illegally ignored CAFE’s adverse safety effects.