News Story

Experts Say CAFE Still Kills Despite Congressional Support

In a questionnaire put out by the Associated Press last week, Michigan congressmen Fred Upton (R-7th District), Mark Schauer (D-8th District) and Gary Peters (D-9th District) all expressed support for "stronger emission controls and fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks."

But some transportation experts say this will lead to higher fatality rates in Michigan and nationally.

"There have been many studies showing that these standards will result in more deaths," said Steven Milloy, an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the author of the book Green Hell.

"Lighter cars are associated with higher fatalities, period."

All three congressmen either specifically supported the uniform Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards voted on and signed into law by President George. W. Bush in 2007 or other recent legislation dealing with fuel standards. The 2007 CAFE standards call for all cars and light trucks to reach 35 miles per gallon by 2020 while the newer standards are more flexible.

The National Center for Policy Analysis cites several studies all finding that stronger fuel efficiency standards leads to higher driver deaths, concluding, "Such increases have unintended safety consequences for the safety of drivers and passengers."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit group funded by auto insurers, previously lobbied against CAFE standards but supports the newer rules.

"The current administration has taken away some of the incentives that encouraged manufacturers to flood the market with small lightweight cars," said spokesman Russ Rader. He says the Obama administration has improved by loosening the regulations.

"[But] despite what the environmentalist lobby would have you believe, size and weight are key aspects of safety," said Rader. "Smaller lighter vehicles are less safe than bigger heavier ones." The group wants to keep the market for larger vehicles while working to improve fuel and safety measures.

But Milloy says fuel standards do not help the environment and have not been worth the cost.

"These standards have killed more people than we have lost in Iraq."

None of the congressmen returned emails or calls for comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.