Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
Washington, D.C., December 6, 2001— As the Senate Commerce Committee begins to hold hearings on the future of the federal government’s new-car fuel economy program, the Competitive Enterprise Institute urged that the Committee first focus on CAFE’s safety effects. For over a decade, CEI has argued that CAFE increases traffic deaths by restricting the production of larger, more crashworthy cars. This past August the National Academy of Sciences agreed; it issued a study on the program that concluded that CAFE contributes to between 1,300 and 2,600 traffic deaths per year. Given that CAFE has been in effect for more than two decades, its likely death toll is ten thousand or more.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The Commerce Committee, however, seems to be focusing not on eliminating CAFE, but on making it more stringent. CEI believes the Committee should first address these questions:
· If CAFE has proven so deadly in the past, won’t it be even deadlier if it is made more stringent?
· The agency that runs CAFE, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has never formally acknowledged CAFE’s lethal effects. How could an agency whose middle name is safety so utterly fail to examine the fact that one of its programs kills people? How can this agency be trusted to run an even riskier version of CAFE?
· According to Public Citizen, the basis for the Ford/Firestone tire defect lay in Ford’s request for a redesigned, more fuel efficient tire. If SUV producers are forced to increase the fuel efficiency of all SUVs, won’t this greatly increase the likelihood of such safety problems in the future?
· Have any of the polls that allegedly show public support for higher CAFE informed the respondents about CAFE’s deadly effects?
· Many advocates of higher CAFE also endorse the Precautionary Principle, under which new technologies should not be introduced until their safety is assured. Why isn’t the Precautionary Principle being applied to CAFE?
“CAFE’s deadly effects have been demonstrated beyond doubt, yet no agency or official has been called to account for them,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “We need to know how this situation was allowed to develop before we even consider the possibility of expanding this program.”
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