The Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) proposal to freeze the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards for each vehicle producer at an existing 37 miles per gallon average efficiency requirement by 2020 will save lives will and lower purchase costs at no disadvantage whatsoever to the air quality or planet.
Without that change, manufacturers would have been required to comply with an Obama administration-decreed 54.5 mpg (miles per gallon) fleet-wide average by 2025.
The previous 2021-25 mandate was rushed through at the end of Obama’s term in violation of the formal EPA rule-making process. The agency failed to conduct any realistic cost-benefit analysis, or to consult, as required, with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
There was no scientifically-credible basis for establishing the precise-sounding 54.5 mpg rule. It simply served as a good number to impress a politically-powerful anti-fossil, pro-wind/solar energy and electric car donor constituency.
Although the aggressively unrealistic standards were premised upon fighting climate change, even the EPA and DOT estimate the global difference temperature between a Trump 37 mpg and Obama 54.5 percent rule would amount to an undetectable 0.0005 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100 — a microscopic 0.00004 degrees per year.
At the same time, even the Obama administration conceded that the new standards would increase the price of a new car by an average $3,000 by 2025. And as a recent EPA release points out, "The current standards have been a factor in the rising cost of new automobiles to an average of $35,000 or more — out of reach for many American families."
An even much bigger cost, is lives.
The Obama EPA’s 54.5 miles per gallon rule assumed that future unknown and unproven technologies will be widely adapted. Instead, the arbitrary mandate has influenced car makers who wish to market the types of vehicles their customers actually want must make them smaller, plus also substitute lighter aluminum and plastic for stronger steel. With less solid "armor" to protect occupants, and less interior space between them and any vehicle or other obstacle they might collide with, many more people are seriously injured and die in crashes.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute has reported: "The likelihood of crash death varies markedly among these vehicles according to size." They explained, "small/light vehicles have less structure and size to absorb crash energy, so crash forces on occupants will be higher."
Also, in smaller cars, there is less distance between the front and the occupant compartment to absorb and "ride down" the impact.
Since CAFÉ standards apply to the manufacturers’ entire fleet regardless of the mix of cars sold, it encourages them to sell many smaller, lighter, less safe, cars at a profit loss in order to offset the fuel consumed by bigger, heavier ones in order to meet fleet-wide compliance. This incentivizes them to jack up the prices of higher-demand vehicles to make up the difference.
Americans prefer bigger cars. SUVs and pickups make up about two-thirds of vehicle sales, and improvements to squeeze in greater fuel efficiencies are becoming incrementally more costly. Automakers must sell hundreds of thousands of electric cars — or buy credits from those that do — to meet rising CAFÉ targets. Former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne estimated that his company lost $20,000 on each electric car it sold.
Electric cars represent under 1.5 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S., and also a miniscule proportion of those in use worldwide. Marketing problems include short ranges, long recharging times, and toxic batteries that wind up in landfills. They also cone at high purchase prices despite taxpayer subsidies for rich buyers that can reach $10,000 per car distributed among gullible taxpayers.
And the CAFÉ purpose? The mandate is really little more than a relic of arrogant four-decade-long government-knows-best mendacity.
The standards were originally devised in 1975 amid anxiety over the OPEC oil embargo and prior forecasts of imminent world oil depletion. In 1908, the U.S. Geological Survey projected that domestic oil reserves would be exhausted by 1927, later postponing doomsday to 1952.
That, of course, was before horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) which postponed the final memorial services led to a far more energy-secure and prosperous society.
CAFÉ regulatory overreach has since found renewed political justification premised upon alleged tailpipe emission climate and air "pollution." CO2 — the essential plant-nourishing miracle molecule — has come to be disingenuously conflated with harmful "dirty air," the truly unhealthy soot particulates and chemicals which nobody wants.
The transparently ideological purpose of the Obama White House 2012 CAFÉ rules was to force an industry-wide automotive transformation to electric vehicles. Freezing them at the current 2020 target level finally offers refreshing evidence of a far more desirable transformation – a political one which respects and preserves opportunities to choose vehicles which best serve our individual utility, safety and budgetary needs.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2012). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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