A new Competitive Enterprise Institute report debunks false claims that the Trump administration plan to scale back government fuel efficiency mandates poses an offsetting risk of deaths from increased tailpipe emissions.
“The Trump administration plan to ease fuel economy standards will save an estimated 1,000 lives a year on America’s roads and highways,” said Steve Milloy, author of the new report. “We should not let false fears and junk science about tailpipe emissions stop reforms that will reduce actual highway fatalities.”
Opponents of the administration’s Safe Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule claim the proposal’s lives-saved claim should be offset by deaths resulting from increased emissions of air pollutants associated with the rollback of mileage standards. The CEI report shows that available scientific and real-world evidence fail to link soot and dust in outdoor air (known as particulate matter) with death. Thus, the benefit-cost analysis for the SAFE rule—or any other Environmental Protection Agency rule—should not consider those unjustified claims.
Meanwhile, 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, according to crash data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The SAFE Rule, which seeks to cap corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards at 2020 levels, should save lives in several ways. First, it will reduce manufacturers’ compliance costs and make new cars more affordable, encouraging lower- and middle-income households to swap their older vehicles for newer, safer models. Second, it will relieve the pressure on automakers to reduce average vehicle size and weight—attributes that help protect occupants in crashes. For those and other reasons, the administration is seeking a partial rollback of the CAFE standards tentatively adopted in 2012.
Steve Milloy is the founder and publisher of JunkScience.com and a former CEI adjunct scholar.