President Bush’s Call For Higher Fuel Economy Standards–A Lethal Regulatory Fix
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Washington, DC, April 28, 2006—The Competitive Enterprise Institute today called President Bush’s request for higher fuel economy standards a political ploy that would be irrelevant in the short run and lethal in the long run.
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“Given the current run-up in gas prices, consumers are moving far more effectively than the government to increase the fuel economy of new cars,” says Sam Kazman, CEI’s general counsel. “They’re switching to different, higher miles-per-gallon models and changing their driving habits—changes that are having the immediate effect of driving up fuel economy and restraining gasoline bills.”
The President, Kazman says, is engaging in the smoke-and-mirrors game of CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) rhetoric. The short-run impact of higher standards would be zero, because its effects would be far outweighed by the more flexible and intelligent choices being made by consumers and by the industry as it responds to consumers. The long-run impact would be more of CAFE has always produced—higher traffic deaths due to its downsizing effect on cars. In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences found that CAFE contributes to 1,300 to 2,600 additional traffic deaths yearly.
“President Bush is taking his addicted-to-oil approach one step further,” says Kazman. “Politicians are addicted to regulating oil, and CAFE is their fix, the public be damned.”
In 1992 CEI won a federal appeals court ruling that the U.S. Transportation Department had illegally ignored CAFE’s adverse safety effects. Instead of calling for higher fuel economy standards, President Bush should concentrate on policies to increase our energy supplies and bring down energy costs, such as opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and more offshore areas to oil exploration.
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