Friday, May 22, 2009

Unintended Consequences: CAFE Standards Will Cause More Pollution and Increase Highway Deaths

An economic phenomenon called "price elasticity of demand" is well established when it comes to automobile purchases. In other words, if you raise the price of new cars, people will buy fewer of them or, at a minimum, put off the purchase for a year or so while they drive the old clunker for a few thousand more miles. And fewer new cars means more pollution, which can cause significant health problems. Yet environmentalists and the press have ignored this issue, so as not to inject a note of complexity or doubt into the chorus of glee that greeted the president's attack on greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Obama fuel efficiency plan may also contribute to a significant increase in highway deaths as vehicles are required to quickly meet the new CAFE standard and will likely become lighter in weight as a result. According to a study completed in 2001 by the National Research Council (NRC), the last major increase in CAFE standards, mandated by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, required about a 50% increase in fuel economy (to 27.5 mpg by model year 1985 from an average of 18 mpg in 1978). The NRC study concluded that the subsequent downsizing and down-weighting of vehicles, "while resulting in significant fuel savings, also resulted in a safety penalty." Specifically, the NRC estimated that in 1993 there were between 1,300 and 2,600 motor vehicle crash deaths that would not have occurred if cars were as heavy as they were in 1976.

The president now proposes a fuel economy increase of similar magnitude in an even quicker time frame -- to 39 mpg by model year 2016 from 27.5 mpg now. Given the time it takes for new technologies to be developed, tested and incorporated into new car models, it is likely that down-weighting of cars will be an important means of meeting the new standard. And one result again could be highway deaths that might otherwise not have occurred.

~Robert Grady in today's WSJ

13 Comments:

At 5/22/2009 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Government Math

 
At 5/22/2009 8:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

And for those who are not killed on the highway, they will require A LOT of medical care in some instances. Increased medical care costs could be another unintended consequence of this legislation.

I's just saying...

Alan Jones

 
At 5/22/2009 9:20 PM, Anonymous AMATI NONYMUS said...

"
Alan said...

And for those who are not killed on the highway, they will require A LOT
"

Private sector has a handle on the vehicles. Government should concentrate on the roadways. We need separate bike trails, separate highways for the 18 wheelers, hummers, Abrams Tanks, and 8 liter '76 Cadillacs.

Mbeep
Mbeep

 
At 5/23/2009 3:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So it's Obama lied, people died.

 
At 5/23/2009 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, but they died in a truly noble cause - reducing CO2 emissions

 
At 5/23/2009 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouldn't "Unintended Consequences" just describe the outcome of EVERY liberal program espoused, be it the environment, education, poverty, the economy, etc., etc., etc.????? Whatever they predict, the opposite will occur. When will they finally be held responsible for the destruction that they create?

 
At 5/23/2009 10:05 PM, Blogger Jason Gillman said...

Ethanol is a perfect example of unintended consequences.. To do the amount of work of a gallon of gasoline, you must burn approx 1.3 times more E-85. E-85 is supposed to offer a slightly cleaner burn , but because efficiency is not there you need to consume more, so there is a very marginal diff in pollution. Oh yeah.. then there are the people who eat corn that get a little miffed..

Then there was Freon.. A relatively harmless (unless exposed to open flame) refrigerant, which was replaced by a refrigerant which was 70% as efficient. This resulted in more energy cost to do the same work. More electricity used = more pollution created to make the electricity, I would assume...

 
At 5/25/2009 8:02 AM, Anonymous AMATI NONYMUS said...

"
70% as efficient. This resulted in more energy cost to do the same work. More electricity used = more pollution created to make the electricity, I would assume...

5/23/2009 10:05 PM
"


You bet your bottom fleece gild, Jason. Would you guess that as people drive closer to the ocean they then recognize their favorite holiday fun by the fragrance of the Chlorine wafting up from the deep? How many Terra-Tons of Chloride you got in your ocean? That Chloride converts to Chlorine gas with each electrolytic shot of coulombs from your friendly electric eel. Purified randomness of molecular interaction is producing more dichloro-difluoro-methane within the ocean than we could ever emit from our puny factories.

Only serious emission you and yours now face is the constant emission of hoax.

 
At 5/25/2009 9:47 AM, Blogger jackline said...

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At 5/25/2009 12:19 PM, Blogger Gregory (Greg) P Turco said...

The error in Grady's column is that if the entire car fleet is down-sized then the affect on safety is reduced

Car-car accidents between similar sized cars is not affected by size. Large car-small car accidents disproportionately have injuries in the small car.

Accidents of large cars with trees and bridge pilings result in the same degree of injury as small cars. This is because the large car carries so much more energy into the crash.

Accidents of small cars and semi-trucks will favor the semi-truck to a greater extent. So there is a small affect against safety.

Doesn't everyone know this? What hasn't anyone else pointed this out?

 
At 5/25/2009 7:40 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"The error in Grady's column is that if the entire car fleet is down-sized then the affect on safety is reduced"...

Oh, I don't think so...

Take a look at this NHTSA Report Number DOT HS 809 662 October 2003

Vehicle Weight, Fatality Risk and Crash Compatibility of Model Year 1991-99 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks
Charles J. Kahane, Ph.D.
...

 
At 5/26/2009 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Car-car accidents between similar sized cars is not affected by size. Large car-small car accidents disproportionately
have injuries in the small car. "

Wrong.

Second statement is true, but the first statement does not follow.

Collisions between two same size small cars are more dangerous than collisions etween same size large cars, for example.

Hydra

 
At 5/29/2009 4:14 PM, Blogger mr said...

MP..I heard last week that the CAFE mpg ratings are different (higher) than EPA mpg ratings you would see on the sticker in the showroom. I don't think joe public knows this and bases their support on the EPA ratings. What say you?

MR

 

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