People argue over whether the Obama administration is good or bad for you. What is irrefutable is that it might kill you.
By 2016, automakers’ passenger vehicle fleets must achieve a combined average fuel-economy standard of 35.5 miles per gallon. Obama wants to raise the standard to 56.2 mpg by 2025. This will kill thousands of people. There’s no doubt about it.
There are many things that can be done in the United States to try to reduce carbon emissions. Doing something that will kill people – maybe you, maybe me, maybe our children – makes no sense, especially when it will have no appreciable impact on global warming.
Holman Jenkins writes today in the Wall Street Journal:
If we junked every gasoline-powered car and truck in America, it would have no appreciable impact on global carbon dioxide. If, as Mr. Obama intends, we switch to electric cars, those cars would be powered by coal (used to make the electricity), so the alleged atmospheric dividend will be doubly elusive.
There are a couple of ways automakers add greater fuel efficiency to autos. First, they make them more fuel efficient. They do this by adding new technology, which makes the vehicles more expensive.
The second thing they do is make them lighter. It’s basic physics. It takes less energy to power a lighter vehicle. It is also basic physics that if you crash into something in a smaller car built of lighter material, you are more likely to die.
There are many studies showing the slaughter inflicted by the increasing of fuel economy standards that began in the 1970s. One of the most bracing came from a 1999 USA Today review of the scientific literature, titled Death by the Gallon. Here’s what it found.
More broadly, in the 24 years since a landmark law to conserve fuel, big cars have shrunk to less-safe sizes and small cars have poured onto roads. As a result, 46,000 people have died in crashes they would have survived in bigger, heavier cars, according to USA TODAY’s analysis of crash data since 1975, when the Energy Policy and Conservation Act was passed.
The law and the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards it imposed have improved fuel efficiency. The average of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads is 20 miles per gallon vs. 14 mpg in 1975.
But the cost has been roughly 7,700 deaths for every mile per gallon gained, the analysis shows.
To take one snapshot, the National Academies of Science estimated that in 1993, about 2,000 deaths were attributable to vehicle downsizing that had occurred since the mid-1970s.
Obama wants to raise fuel economy standards at an accelerated rate. And people will die at an accelerated rate.
Perhaps you are thinking this a way to get more people to adopt Michelle’s “Let’s Move” program – and walk. Except, for reasons that are not completely clear, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities to pedestrians also rise when smaller cars are driven.