CAFE Obama: Proposed mileage standards would kill more Americans than Iraq War

May 19, 2009

The Obama administration’s proposed mileage standards that will be announced today may kill more Americans at a faster rate than the Iraq War — his signature issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Obama’s standards will require automakers to meet a 35 miles-per-gallon standard by 2016 — four years earlier than the same standard imposed by the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007.

As discussed in my new book Green Hell, the only way for carmakers to meet these standard is to make smaller, lighter and deadlier cars.

The National Academy of Sciences has linked mileage standards with about 2,000 deaths per year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every 100-pound reduction in the weight of small cars increases annual traffic fatalities by as much as 715.

In contrast in the more than six years since the Iraq war began, there have been 4,296 deaths among American military personnel.

There’s also another lesson hidden in the proposed standards — one that applies to businesses trying to game global warming legislation.

Carmakers lobbied hard against overly stringent mileage standards in the 2007 energy bill, finally negotiating with Congress a compromise standard they thought they at least had a chance to meet. President Obama has now pulled the rug out from under the carmakers and their 2007 deal.

This ought to serve as a lesson for businesses trying to negotiate a climate deal they think (hope) they can survive. Rest assured that as soon as business groups agree to a climate deal, the greens and the Obama administration will go to work the next day figuring out ways to bulldoze the deal in order to make greenhouse gas limitations more stringent and more expensive.

Businesses often operate under the mis-impression that they can cut lasting, win-win compromises with environmental groups on public policy. But such dealing is an impossibility since the greens are ideologically driven and won’t be happy until capitalism is stamped out. The greens are not interested in compromise. Like blood in the water to sharks, compromise by businesses signals its weakness and vulnerability, and, therefore, opportunity for the greens.

55 Responses to “CAFE Obama: Proposed mileage standards would kill more Americans than Iraq War”

  1. […] “Proposed mileage standards would kill more Americans than Iraq War” writes Steve Milloy, a Fox News commentator and author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Ruin Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.” […]

  2. mastadonzq Says:

    and what happens when the oil runs out?
    this is going to be a lot sooner than a lot of you seem to think

  3. jrook Says:

    I think your argument is good and the comparison of death rates shows how ludicrous the bumping up of the date is. However, the NRDC does not estimate 1 million gallons would be saved, it estimates that around 1 million BARRELS will be saved by 2020.

    Click to access leg_07101801A.pdf

    Interesting post, keep it up!

  4. […] Milloy writes about the really bad problem on Green Hell blog: The Obama administration’s proposed mileage standards that will be announced […]

  5. Raz C Says:

    Europe’s car safety stats are far better than those of the US. Why? Because culturally Europeans are taught to pay attention while driving. Rarely would you find them driving on the freeway eating food, applying beauty products, or talking on phone. Car accidents are cause by people, not cars. Don’t blame car accidents on cars that are carelessly driven by people.

  6. […] at least $1,300 per vehicle.  More importantly, these CAFE rules could cost upwards of 700 lives per year because manufacturers will be forced to make smaller, lighter vehicles that are less crash […]

  7. Jeff Id Says:

    I don’t know what makes you think gas prices will go down when the opposite is clearly the intent.

    Great article though.

  8. onlinecharity Says:

    Yes, small cars are dangerous, but I don’t buy the “Lighter = more deadly” argument.
    Take a Formula one car as an example.

    They weigh, give or take a few kilos, 620KG. They are THE SAFEST cars in the world, by a long way.

    The answer is in aerodynamics and lighter but stronger materials to build with. Yes they’re more expensive, but with increased production prices will come down.

    Cars need to be lighter, yes, but that doesn’t make them any more dangerous!

    • wa777 Says:

      The report refers to family cars for people with a couple of kids, some luggage, capable of a 350 mile trip without refueling, and costing less than US$250,000 (say $30,000 or less). These family cars travel in a real world that has oncoming traffic (cars and trucks), trees and bridge abutments on the side, and need to cover distance without tiring.

      My purpose in posting the cites and the quotes was to illustrate the bureaucracy’s penchant to misdirect discussion and suppress contrary opinion.

      I think the report makes my point.

    • Sk Says:

      Do you have any first idea how much does a F1 car cost? Even the cockpit alone?

  9. mindlass Says:

    The questions remain:
    -Why not drill in ANWAR?
    -Why not more offshore drilling?
    -Why no new refineries?
    -Why hasn’t any green person calculated the costs of charging the electric car batteries?
    -Why not more nuclear if we are to recharge all those electric cars?

    • wa777 Says:

      Your points are well-taken.
      The answer is:
      Mr. James Mill takes the principle that all men desire Power; his son, John Stuart Mill, assumes that all men desire Wealth mainly or solely. …
      The attitude is:
      “Some of you may die, but it’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.” – Farquaad (Shrek)

  10. wa777 Says:

    Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards
    Committee on the Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards
    Board on Energy and Environmental Systems Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
    Transportation Research Board
    National Research Council
    Washington, D.C.
    Library of Congress Control Number: 2001097714
    Intenational Standard Book Number: 0-309-07601 -3
    ISBN-10: 0-309-09037-7
    ISBN-13: 978-0-309-09037-7
    ($37.80 sc, $32.50 dl)

    Page 26: “The 1992 NRC report noted significant evidence that the improvement in motor vehicle travel safety to that time could have been even greater had vehicles not been downweighted and downsized. For example, the report cited NHTSA research (Kahane, 1990; Kahane and Klein, 1991) indicating that “the reductions that have occurred in passenger-vehicle size from model year 1970 to 1982 are associated with approximately 2,000 additional occupant fatalities annually” (NRC, 1992, p. 53). In another study cited by the 1992 report, Crandall and Graham (1988) estimated that fatality rates in 1985 car models were 14 to 27 percent higher because of the 500 lb of weight reduction attributed by those authors to CAFE requirements. These estimates revealed forgone reductions in fatalities occasioned by the downweighting and/or downsizing of the fleet. These safety costs had been hidden from public view by the generally improving safety of the motor vehicle environment. It should be noted that the terms downsizing ‘and downweighting are
    used interchangeably here because of the very high correlation between these physical attributes of motor vehicles. Although the effects of size and mass appear quite separate in the theoretical discussion above, in reality most heavy cars are large and most large cars are heavy. As a result of this correlation, the 1992 NRC report was unable to separate the different effects of vehicle mass and size in accounting for the changes in safety. The report questioned to what have been prevented had vehicles retained their initial size. Nevertheless. the report concluded that “the historical changes in the fleet-downsizing and/or downweighting have been accompanied by increased risk of occupant injury” (NRC, 1992, p. 55). The current committee concurs
    with that conclusion.”

    Table 3.1 (page 37) Change in Death or Injury Rates for 100-lb Weight Reduction in Average Car or Average Light Truck (percent) gives the Overall Fatalities per 100-lb Weight Reduction as +1.13 and Overall Injuries as +1.6.

    Page 27: “It must be noted that the application of the 1997 NHTSA analyses to the questions before this committee is not without controversy. In 1996, after reviewing a draft of the NHTSA analyses, a committee of the National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board (NRC-TRB) expressed concerns about the methods used in these analyses and concluded, in part, “the Committee finds itself unable to endorse the quantitative conclusions in the reports about projected highway fatalities and injuries because of large uncertainties associated with the results. . . .” These reservations were principally (FALSE) concerned with the question of whether the NHTSA analyses had adequately controlled for confounding factors such as driver age. sex, and aggressiveness. (FALSE]Two members of the current committee are convinced that the concerns raised by the NRC-TRB committee are still valid and question some of the conclusions of the NHTSA analyses. Their reservations are detailed in a dissent that forms Appendix A of this report.”

    • wa777 Says:

      FYI Continued:
      Appendix A: Dissent on Safety Issues: Fuel Economy and Highway Safety (page 117)
      David L. Greene and Maryann Keller

      “The relationship between fuel economy and highway safety is complex, ambiguous, poorly understood, and not measurable by any known means at the present time. Improving fuel economy could be marginally harmful, beneficial, or have no impact on highway safety. The conclusions of the majority of the committee stated in Chapters 2 and 4 are overly simplistic and at least partially incorrect.
      False statement ignored the first fallacy
      “In analyzing the relationships between weight and safety it is all too easy to fall into one of two logical fallacies. The first results from the very intuitive, thoroughly documented (e.g., Evans, 1991, chapter 4, and many others), and theoretically predictable fact that in a collision between two vehicles of unequal weight, the occupants of the lighter vehicle are at greater risk. The fallacy lies in reasoning that, therefore, reducing the mass of all vehicles will increase risks in collisions between vehicles. This is a fallacy because it is the relative weight of the vehicles rather than their absolute weight that, in theory, leads to the adverse risk consequences for the occupants of the lighter vehicle.”
      And spoke to this one.
      “The second fallacy arises from failing to adequately account for confounding factors and consequently drawing conclusions from spurious correlations. In analyzing real crashes, it is generally very difficult to sort out “vehicle” effects from driver behavior and environmental conditions. Because the driver is generally a far more important determinant of crash occurrences than the vehicle and a significant factor in the outcomes, even small confounding errors
      can lead to seriously erroneous results.”

    • wa777 Says:

      See also:
      Special Issue: Car Size, Weight, and Safety.” Status Report Insurance Institute For Highway Safety 44, no. 4 (April 14, 2009): 8.

      Status Report Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, Vol 44, Issue 4. 8 pages.

      • bicballpoint Says:

        The point is that the whole, make cars do more to the gallon mania could be achieved simply by re-setting the computer controlled carburretors, which according to the experts are set to burn just 32% of fuel and jettison the ecess through the exhaust.

        As for saving the planet, that’s unscientific hogwash, the brainwave of Club of Rome, dreamt up to conitoion us into believing that man is destroying the planet.

        In 60 billion years of vulcanic erruptions, ice ages galore and the relatively small gap beteen them which enables us to survive, the Earth has manged fairly well long before man came onto the scene.

        It’s the sun that heats the Earth, every kid above five knows that.

  11. brilliantmindbrokenbody Says:

    You’ve missed a critical point here – the majority of vehicles that will be affected are NOT the small compact cars. Most of them are already near or at 35 mpg.

    The cars that will be affected are the larger cars. The cars that aren’t included in the figures you named.

    Nice strawman argument.

    So let’s make sure we get this straight – we don’t have anything that shows that lightening bigger, heavier cars will produce more highway deaths. In fact, we have quite the contrary – we have evidence that when an accident involves a larger, heavier vehicle, it increases the likelihood of killing someone else (whether a pedestrian, a motorcyclist, or people in another car). Lightening those larger vehicles might actually reduce driving deaths.


  12. […] CAFE Obama: Proposed mileage standards would kill more Americans than Iraq War […]

  13. tzugidan Says:

    Well…something has to give pal. We can’t continue to destroy the Earth at this pace. More people than that die from the flue (about 12,000 per year).

    Nice tie in with the war. Conservatives will try about anything to minimize the carnage that one American President and his father have created, over oil. Ironically, the very thing that these new standards will try to get us off of foreign reliance for.

    Americans need to understand we are not the only nation, and our needs/wants/desires have to be balanced with the rest of the World, and the resources we have on Earth. The sooner we all understand this, regardless of politics, the better off the planet, and our children’s lives, will be.

    • filipeto Says:

      You are a fool…there is no global warming, it is a hoax to control your behaviour. We cannot destroy the earth and we need carbon to live…without it we will be fried by the sun. We cannot deplete ozone: the sun makes it.
      We have been a lot warmer in the past and a lot cooler, and no man was around to pollute. And there were no factories. Is the sun that makes this planet warmer or cooler. And is the sun that creates all the inconveniences we have in the climate.
      Instead of believeing the communist leftist propaganda, why do not inform yoursel and read the true science that is out there for all to read, but is not put forward by the press because they are also communists. It is just a ploy to control you and to have power forever. Read 1984 by Orwell. We are getting there quickly and youll be able to finally kiss goodbye to your freedom. If that is what you want you shall have it , therefore move to Cuba, Venezuela or China ( you will be happy there), but do not try to impose to others your view of life

    • filipeto Says:

      Also…yes…The Us is the greates nation in this world and has the best standard of living that there is. There are plenty of resources to use for many centuries to come …we are not depleting anything. What we need to do is teach others to have the same standard of life we have, elevate them and make them successful as we are. We do not need to go backwards and and be miserable as they are! You level plain filed is all miserable instead of all well being and free.

    • rlee913 Says:

      tzugidan Says:
      “Conservatives will try about anything to minimize the carnage that one American President and his father have created, over oil.”
      So the 100% membership of the House & Senate, as well as the United Nations casting a “Yes” vote on the war didn’t really count???
      The people that you obviously worship, headed up by none other than Saint Commissar Obama the Messiah, Imperial Reader of The All Knowing & Most Powerful Teleprompter, could have pulled the plug at any time.
      In so much as you have no grip on reality, you are irrelevant!

  14. […] has said that a 35 mpg standard will save about one million gallons of gas per day. Steven Milloy asks how that savings balances out against the 2,000 fatalities that the National Academy of Sciences says […]

  15. If those stats on fatalities and small cars are based on the US, rather than say, European countries where small cars are more common, then there could be a flaw in your logic. It may be that, all things being equal, you’re more likely to survive a crash if you’re in a large car than a small car. But it may also be that you’re more likely to survive if you’re hit by a small car than if you’re hit by a large car. If small cars became very common, more wrecks would be between small cars. Perhaps this would change the situation to the point that fatalities would not increase. We need more information.

    • filipeto Says:

      Nonsense….I lived in Europe and crashes of small cars are almost always fatal. They do not survive most of teh crashes. If you have a large vehicle you will hav more chances of surviving even if the crash is between large heavy vehicles.
      I do not want to drive a small car, I do not want drive an electric car or hibrid, I want to have a large comfortable car, that is safe, fast and powerful.
      There is plenty of oil in the world to last a thousand years or more. Just diggit out. What we need is not expensive energy, but cheap abundant energy for all.
      If you like small cars move to Europe and pay 8 dollars a gallon for gas…you will be happy there. Live us here to our cheap gas!

  16. […] of cars, driving to Blacksburg tomorrow! Update: Well, I found someone who would vote the first option. Someone explain his argument to me…is he seriously saying that if everyone drives smaller […]

  17. Are you legitimately crazy or just trying to be funny?

  18. tedmagnuson Says:

    Green Hell, you are so right. Autos are a messy solution to our transportation needs. Oil Wars have been fought ever since the ‘infernal combustion engine’ began propelling our society 110 years ago. What will people say when ‘light trucks’ get a hefty tax hit when used merely for personal use? Maybe once it’s felony to speed, safe driving will become more fashionable. Traffic scofflaws ought to get the kind of treatment now given to those enmeshed in street drugs.

  19. Wellsy Says:

    I’m not sure how any of this overregulation is going to save the auto industry, which is one of the supposed goals of this administration. In truth, what we’re seeing is more federal control of industry, as the bankruptcy plan giving GM’s assets to a corporation “initially owned” by the government shows us.

  20. Jeremy Says:

    although the mileage standard for small cars has gone up, there is still a loophole. The mileage standard for light trucks only went from 24-26.2 so that might mean that we’ll just be getting in larger cars.

  21. seenaghost Says:

    this book in horrible and nonsense. we’re talking about the survival of our PLANET EARTH here, not just people. People are people and some will tend to be stupid. Europe had had high standards for years and they’re doing great. You forgot to mention the thousands of people that won’t lose their houses and possessions due to the fact that they don’t have to fill up as often. You really have to put politics to the side. As Al Gore said, “This is not as much of a political situation, but a moral one”, and he’s right. This book is not going to sell.

  22. gbmasmith Says:

    This entire “debate” has NOTHING to with fuel efficiency, American lives, smaller cars or even larger cars. It has to do with the same thing as “Global Warming”: “Political Ajenda”

    Sure there are a bunch of doo-gooders who “feel better” when they think they are “saving the planet” BUT, in the end analysis, it is the USA-Haters who want to take control over EVERYTHING you have so, they can contro the things yu do not … and now, will NEVER have. As in “Self-Responsibility”

    You want to “save the planet?” Get those ner-do-wells to STOP BREATHING!


  23. […] CAFE Obama: Proposed mileage standards would kill more Americans than Iraq War The Obama administration’s proposed mileage standards that will be announced today may kill more Americans at a […] […]

  24. […] at: Politico, Time, The Washington Post, Hot Air, Michelle Malkin, The Heritage Foundation, and Steve Milloy’s Blog – just to start. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Government encouragement of […]

  25. […] what if Obama’s proposed CAFE standards will kill an estimated 2,000 Americans a year? As long as it helps ’save’ the environment […]

  26. whiteknight09 Says:

    As I have owned a small car & wrecked it, the dangers of a small car are obvious. What are the alternatives?

    Aerodynamics: This is by far one of the easiest factors that is fixable/adjustable. Air dams, side skirts (extended rocker panels)etc. This factor alone in my case has given me an extra 1-2 days of gas. Don’t make or buy a boxy looking vehicle.

    Driving Style: The main factor in gas usage. If your parents told you to drive the speed limit, they were absolutely right. Pass only when required, use cruise control when possible.

    Oil Grade: Use a lighter oil. 5w30 instead of 10w30 for example.

    Condition of vehicle: If you have an oil leak, rusted out exhaust system etc, get them fixed and that will help.

    Summary: In summary if: vehicles were designed for form and function, then that would help greatly. Each one of us is responsible for the vehicle we drive. We cannot force others to do the same.

  27. […] And there’s the ant colony at this particular picnic.  The fuel efficiency has to come from less weight.  Green Hell Blog looks at some other numbers in CAFE Obama: Proposed mileage standards would kill more Americans than Iraq War […]

  28. tpinson3 Says:

    Steve, your math is wrong. If the higher mileage standards would cause 1 million gallons per day to be saved, and it is assumed that the price would go down, the total savings would be : 1million gal/day (fuel saved) X the prevailing market price for the gas, per gal, PLUS $1.00 x the number of gallons actually consumed, per day. The number is not known, as no market price was assumed in your example, but the savings/day would be many times greater than that given by your math.

    • sulair Says:

      The US uses 390 million gallons of gas per day. Assume a “conservative” price of $1.90 per gallon now and the savings would be:

      390 million x $1 = $390 million
      1 million x $1.90= $190 million
      savings = $580 million per day (using Milloy’s numbers)

  29. cbullitt Says:

    Re: the question in this article:

    “How many will be sacrificed on the altar of the false god of global warming?”

    Someone should keep a running total of deaths caused by the AGW horse shit. Then we can have our own show trials–end executuions.

  30. welder4 Says:

    sure I have a solution I am not Steve but I have one , I know it will not fly with the left but here it is , Drill here now and pay less also instead of throwing money down a black hole invest in at least 5 new refineries and watch as the people come up to the counter and order more wide screen TV’s, computers fur coats and entertainment and new cars .Lower the cost of energy and people will have confidence but it has to be a meaningful cost reduction for it to work it can not be a temporary thing.

  31. welder4 Says:

    I can see were he will get a class a rating for his speech was magotnanimus . typical of his written ones that the Axlerod writes for him ,the teleprompter has spoken . Sometimes technology is a bad thing.

  32. […] my friend Dave, Steve Milloy suggests that Obama’s new automobile standards will result in thousands of American deaths each year. Obama’s standards will require automakers to meet a 35 miles-per-gallon standard by 2016 — […]

  33. […] the only way for carmakers to meet these standard is to make smaller, lighter and deadlier cars. The National Academy of Sciences has linked mileage standards with about 2,000 deaths per year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every 100-pound reduction in the weight of small cars increases annual traffic fatalities by as much as 715. CAFE Obama: Proposed mileage standards would kill more Americans than Iraq War Green Hell Blog […]

  34. mastadonzq Says:

    so do you have an actual suggestion/better idea or should we just keep on doing things the same way?

  35. bear865 Says:

    tarpon is of course joking and must be as cynical, if not more cynical than I am, which is a hard thing to do.

    I have seen these little pieces of crap driving around with their Leninist Useful Idiots happy as clams, convinced for sure they are “saving the planet”.

    The only thing the planet needs saved from is do-gooders like them.

    Oh, and I am glad to know my life is worth $6.9 million or so (per our “betters”). If I could cash in on even half that amount, my wife and I could retire to Tahiti, or the Gilberts or the Marshalls. At least out there, we might be left alone.

    Not to mention there is a high probability the Barry is not even a legal president, and therefore, any “bill” he “signs” into law won’t even make good toilet tissue. On this issue and on states rights under the 10th Amendment, the pressure cooker is heating up. And the Useful Idiots have increased the heat and have removed the pressure gage and safety valve.

    Tahiti is sounding better and better.

  36. […] CAFE Obama: Proposed mileage standards would kill more Americans than Iraq War […]

  37. tarpon Says:

    We can make cars out of tinfoil and save even more … By reducing the population, we also are helping save the planet.

    • atnorth Says:

      Although you’re being facetious, you’ve nailed two of the Left’s goals with this measure: less plant food (CO2) produced, and fewer people. The third one should be obvious, too: With smaller, lighter (and more expensive) cars, large families will be less able to take private trips, whether they be vacations or shopping trips. The answer to this conundrum will be mass transit or smaller families, or both. So, you know, win-win-win-win for the Left.

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