NCPPR’s Almasi Comments on CAFE in National Review

In the May 5 print edition of National Review, Fred Schwarz described how the catalytic converter was perfected just as automakers faced potentially crippling federal emissions requirements. Liberals cite this as proof that all that is needed to make technological breakthroughs happen is to give industry a swift regulatory kick in the pants, but this particular development was a happy coincidence. Had a breakthrough – discovered after many frustrating failures – not come when it did, the auto industry could very well have been devastated.

Schwarz sees the development of the catalytic converter as another step in the march of science that will, in time, bring about the changes some people hastily want to mandate.

Schwarz’s article is great but for the one line. Schwarz calls newly-mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards “feasible.” Hardly. They are most likely to make cars and trucks smaller, lighter and subsequently more dangerous in the short-term before (in the minds of the regulatory crowd) the long-hidden formula to fuel cars with water is unveiled.

National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi explained one of the problems with increased CAFE standards in a letter to the editor that now has been printed in the May 19 National Review (print edition). David’s letter is reprinted in its entirety below:

Fred Schwarz is right to predict that science will achieve regulatory goals at its own pace (“Machina ex Machina,” May 5).

He also says that “[current] CAFE standards are quite feasible, and while opponents have criticized them on economic grounds, at least no engineering miracles will be required.” True – but the biggest problem with the Corporate Average Fuel Economy system concerns safety, not economics or engineering. By historical precedent the easiest way for automakers to meet higher fuel-efficiency requirements is to make cars and trucks smaller, lighter and inherently less safe. A 2002 study by the National Academy of Sciences estimated between 1,300 and 2,600 accident-related deaths each year can be attributed to CAFE standards.

It’s also the case that these new CAFE standards will raise the price of new vehicles large enough for family use by thousands of dollars. If you don’t like paying an extra buck a gallon for gasoline, just wait until you have to spend an extra ten grand for the car.

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.