Would You Spend $2,750 More for a New Car Just To Make Air Pollution Worse?

Activities at the July Environmental Policy Task Force meeting chaired by David Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research.

New Law Says OMB Must Identify Government Regulations for Reform: Will It Ignore the Law?

Angela Antonelli of The Heritage Foundation, a former Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official, delivered a presentation on an accounting statement OMB is required by law to make on the costs and benefits of federal regulations. Because Congress is interested in developing a thorough understanding of the benefits and costs of federal regulations, it made this requirement of the OMB in the 1996 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act.

This OMB report is important, Antonelli said, because OMB’s independent assessment of the quality & reliability of cost/benefit analyses done by federal agencies is important for Congress to have. Unfortunately, there is concern about how good a job OMB will be allowed to do, so it is critical, Antonelli said, that the public, the business community, and state and local government officials comment during the 90-day public comment period, which ends September 30.

The law also requires that the OMB provide recommendations to “reform or eliminate any federal regulatory program or program element that is inefficient or is not a sound use of national resources.” Antonelli said that the public needs to insist that the OMB report contain such recommendations. It is unlikely, she said, that the federal regulatory system, which covers 55 agencies, 130,000 federal employees, and $14 billion in federal spending, always does what is necessary and right. She noted that the General Accounting Office files hundreds of reports annually suggesting programs for reform.

Antonelli concluded by noting that the average American family worked until July 3 in 1997 to pay for government spending and regulations. She pointed out that federal agencies have issued over 4,800 new rules in just the last 15 months, and that at least 78 of these new rules have costs over $100 million each. New regulatory taxes, she said, will eat any benefits of balancing the federal budget — and they’ll also erode the American people’s constitutional freedom to decide what is best for themselves and their communities.

Contact Angela Antonelli at 202/546-4400 or visit http://www.heritage.org.

Would You Spend $2,750 More for a New Car Just To Make Air Pollution Worse?

Ron DeFore of the Coalition for Vehicle Choice spoke on Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards, and Senator Richard Bryan (D-NV)’s legislation to raise them to 40 m.p.g. for cars and light trucks. DeFore opposes this because: 1) It would raise the price of new vehicles by approximately $2,750, an increase which would be added on top of an expected price increase of $2,000 due to other new government emissions and safety requirements. 2) It would make cars less safe (A Harvard study found that a 40% increase in CAFE standards, causing smaller and lighter cars, would cause an additional 1,650 deaths and 8,500 serious injuries on each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that current standards already cause an extra 2,000 deaths and 20,000 serious injuries each year.). 3) It would not reduce air pollution, and could raise it, because the amount of air pollution created by cars is tied to the number of miles driven rather than miles per gallon. If m.p.g. levels go up, people tend to drive more, thus polluting more. 4) It would have little effect on so-called “greenhouse” gases because CO2 emissions from affected U.S. vehicles are only 1.5% of total man-made greenhouse gases. 5) It would not reduce dependence on foreign oil, because demand for foreign oil is determined largely by price. DeFore also gave a history of CAFE standards: They began in the 1970s in response to the 73-74 oil crisis. From 1979-85 average mileage rates rose from 18 m.p.g. to 27.5 m.p.g. This was supposed to save 300 million barrels of oil a day but actually saved 270 thousand. Over CAFE’s history, DeFore said, the average m.p.g. of the new car fleet has risen from 14 to 28.5 m.p.g., an amount that exceeds that required by law. He noted that this shows that m.p.g. increases up to now have been market driven. DeFore distributed detailed information. Contact Ron DeFore at 202/628-5164.

Is Global Warming Good for People?

David Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research distributed two new National Center National Policy Analysis papers: 1) #165, “Cure to Global Warming Could be Worse Than the Disease,” a six-page paper that answers the questions: Would life be better with or without global warming?; Is global warming actually occurring?; Is global warming the result of human activity? and, Is the prescribed cure for global warming worse than the disease? 2) #164, “New Clean Air Standards Could Place Children at Greater Risk,” a two-page paper outlining the negative health consequences of the EPA’s new air quality regulations. Contact David Ridenour at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected].

New Bill Would Save BBQs

Dr. Bonner Cohen of EPA Watch assessed H.R. 1984, the John Dingell (D-MI) – Ron Klink (D-PA) legislation to block imposition of the EPA’s clean air new regulations (a companion bill in the Senate has been introduced by Senators John Breaux [D-LA] and Jim Inhofe [R-OK]). Cohen noted that supporters of this legislation are heartened by the fact that a large number of Democrats oppose the new regulations, but since President Clinton is expected to veto the bill blocking them, 2/3rds support will be needed in both the House and the Senate. Cohen estimates that 20 more votes are needed in the House and four more are needed in the Senate to override a veto. Should the EPA standards not be blocked, more than 100 million people living in 100 U.S. metropolitan areas currently compliant with federal standards will suddenly be non-compliant, and, as such, will be subject to measures to enforce compliance. Likely measures include: forced carpooling and other restrictions of the use of cars and trucks and restrictions on the use of lawnmowers, fireplaces, boats and outdoor BBQs. Among the cities likely to be afflicted: New York, Boston, Providence, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit & all of southern Michigan, Houston, New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, Memphis, Seattle, Portland (OR), and all of southern California. Agricultural states are also likely to be hard-hit. Contact Bonner Cohen at 202/739-0179.

Talk Radio Shows Strong Interest in Bill to Deter UN Land Grabs

John Rishel of the House Resources Committee commented upon the strong interest talk radio has shown in HR 901, the American Land Sovereignty Protection Act. The legislation is sponsored by 40% of the House but Bruce Babbitt’s Interior Department is telling the White House to veto it. HR 901 is designed to deter the United Nations’ continuing effort to extend its authority over lands in sovereign nations through two environmental programs, World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves, by explicitly retaining U.S. authority over U.S. lands. Contact John Rishel at 202/226-0242.

New Study Provides Examples of EPA Abuses

Angela Antonelli of The Heritage Foundation distributed copies of Heritage Backgrounder #1129, “Can No One Stop the EPA?” The 18-page paper provides example after example of EPA irresponsibility in setting its new clean air regulations, and concludes by calling the EPA “out of control, with no sense of accountability or responsibility to the American people.” Contact Angela Antonelli at 202/546-4400 or download the paper from http://www.heritage.org. *

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.