Two Groups Sue Transportation Department over Fuel Economy Standards
Click here for audio soundbites (mp3), soundbite 1; soundbite 2.
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Judy Kent 202.331.2266
Washington, D.C., June 11, 2003—The Competitive Enterprise Institute and Consumer Alert have filed a lawsuit challenging the more stringent fuel economy standards issued recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for light trucks and SUVs. The groups argue that NHTSA has failed to adequately consider the impact of its new standards on traffic safety.
The new standards, issued on March 31, will take effect beginning with the 2005 model year. NHTSA claims the new standards will not lead to vehicle downsizing, but CEI and Consumer Alert contend that the agency is ignoring the fact that higher fuel economy standards inevitably restrict vehicle size. Because larger SUV models have better safety records than smaller ones, a downsizing effect would result in more traffic deaths.
The CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) program was originally introduced in 1975. In 2001, a National Academy of Sciences report found that CAFE’s downsizing effect on passenger cars may be responsible for approximately 2,000 deaths a year.
“Once again, NHTSA has increased a CAFE standard with absolutely no recognition of its
lethal impact on safety,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “NHTSA has taken this head-in-the-sand approach for over a decade, despite adverse court findings and despite the National Academy of Sciences’ own conclusion that CAFE kills. Despite the fact that its middle name is safety, NHTSA’s real concern seems to be protecting its bureaucratic image rather than the public.”
In 1992 CEI won a federal appeals court ruling that the U.S. Transportation Department had illegally ignored CAFE’s deadly effects. More information and background can be found at CEI’s CAFE Café.
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.
Text of soundbites
Sam Kazman, General Counsel, Competitive Enterprise Institute
“The Competitive Enterprise Institute is suing the Transportation Department because it has increased its fuel economy standard with absolutely no recognition of its lethal impact on safety. The agency has taken this head-in-the-sand approach for over a decade, despite adverse court findings and despite the National Academy of Sciences’ own conclusion that these standards kill. The agency’s real concern seems to be with protecting not the public’s safety, but its own image.”
“If the Transportation Department has the public’s best interest at heart, then why has it once again put the American people at risk? In 2001, a National Academy of Sciences report found that these fuel economy standards may be responsible for up to 2,000 deaths a year. Because of this, the Competitive Enterprise Institute is suing the Transportation Department.”