Potential Error in National Academy of Sciences Report on Gas Mileage Standards Wouldn’t Be the First Time

Potential Error in National Academy of Sciences Report on Gas Mileage Standards Wouldn’t Be the First Time

September 21, 2001

Washington, D.C., September 21, 2001—The possibility that a new report on fuel economy standards could actually be erroneous doesn’t come as a surprise to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  CEI’s general counsel, Sam Kazman, says it wouldn’t be the first time that the National Academy of Sciences has been wrong on the federal government’s program, known as CAFE.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


The Academy yesterday announced that it would hold hearings in early October on the question of whether its latest CAFE report, issued July 31, overstated the potential fuel savings of new technologies.  The auto industry has argued that some technologies were double-counted, and according to wire reports the Academy admits the possibility that it miscalculated.


This would hardly be the first time that the Academy has erred on CAFE.  A 1992 Academy report concluded the evidence on CAFE’s traffic safety effects was ambiguous.  Its latest report, however, concludes that CAFE may have contributed to between 1,300 and 2,600 traffic fatalities in a single year, by encouraging the production of downsized, less crashworthy vehicles.


“The latest Academy report indicates that CAFE’s cumulative death toll may well be in the tens of thousands, but the 1992 report totally missed this danger,” said Kazman.  “The fact that the Academy drastically erred on this issue indicates that its latest report cannot be regarded as a reliable guide to eliminating CAFE’s risks.  Rather than thinking about how to make CAFE more stringent, our attention should be on how CAFE was allowed to impose that death toll in the first place.”


CEI and Consumer Alert brought a series of lawsuits from 1988 to 1995, challenging the Transportation Department’s claim that CAFE has no impact on auto safety.



CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information, visit our website at www.cei.org.  For interviews, please contact the media relations department at pr@cei.org or 202.331.1010