This is an Ayn Rand Institute Press Release dated December 21, 2007
Irvine, CA–The energy bill that President Bush just signed into law
is a significant victory for environmentalists, who have long pushed
for such measures as expanded ethanol production. But the centerpiece
of the bill–for which environmentalists have been agitating for
years–is a major increase in automobile fuel economy standards, the
first such increase since 1975.
The law forces auto manufacturers to increase the average mileage of
cars, SUVs, and light trucks to 35 mpg by 2020. Currently, the
standard is 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.2 mpg for SUVs and light trucks.
It might seem obviously beneficial to decree that cars must use less
fuel. But according to Dr. Keith Lockitch, resident fellow at the Ayn
Rand Institute, “The new mileage standards will make cars more
expensive and more dangerous and will cause many more traffic
“Compelling automakers to achieve higher mileage forces them to
compromise automobile safety. To achieve fuel economy, they are forced
to make vehicles lighter and smaller. But lighter, smaller vehicles
are much more dangerous in an accident. Because the car absorbs less
of the crash impact, the passengers absorb it instead.
“The original Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, imposed
in 1975, have already led to a substantial increase in traffic
fatalities–an additional two thousand traffic deaths per year,
according to a 2002 study by the National Academy of Sciences. With
the new standard, manufacturers will be forced to downsize even
further all cars, as well as SUVs and light trucks. But these vehicles
will still be sharing the road with buses, delivery trucks, and
massive commercial trailer trucks. One shudders at the thought of how
much greater a risk Americans will face. Nevertheless,
environmentalists have continued to fight for higher fuel economy
requirements, consistently and cavalierly dismissing the risks and the
“Despite the drumbeat of constant assertions to the contrary, it is
far from a settled scientific fact that we face catastrophic dangers
from climate change. Yet, under the guise of protecting us from the
alleged dangers of global warming, environmentalists force upon us the
very real, provable dangers of increased auto injuries and deaths.
Clearly, what they value is something other than human well-being.”
Copyright (c) 2007 Ayn Rand(R) Institute. All rights reserved.