While the country was focused on the debt extension deal being hashed out between Congress and the White House, President Obama reached an agreement with the auto industry to raise what are called Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. These are laws that mandate the average mileage that a fleet of cars sold by a particular manufacturer must achieve. Under these new rules, the fleet standard would increase to 54.5 mpg by 2025. Just for comparison, the 2011 2-passenger Smart Cart is advertising 41 mpg on the highway. The problem is that if automobiles are going to meet this standard, the auto companies will have to seriously downsize their fleet. The reason why the Smart Car even gets the mileage it does is because it’s so small and light, as was noted in this Washington Examiner Editorial:
It is inescapable that more weight means lower fuel economy, so heavier vehicles will have to go. So prepare to say goodbye to sport utility vehicles, pickups and minivans, the very vehicles millions of American families and businesses must rely upon every day. Even when lighter vehicle materials like aluminum and carbon fiber can be used instead of steel, the only SUVs and minivans that will survive will still have to be significantly smaller than at present, and thus far less practical for consumers.
The editorial goes on to point out:
By far the worst result, however, will be the fact that thousands will die because Obama, fanatical Big Green environmentalists, and their allies in the federal bureaucracy care more about removing micro-amounts of emissions than they do about the safety and convenience of people on the roads.
The indisputable fact is that, everything else equal, the smaller and lighter the car, the less safe the car. This has been backed up numerous times by studies from the liberal Brookings Institution, the National Academy of Science, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The latter estimated that for every 100 lbs reduced from the weight of a car weighing 3000 lbs, the traffic death toll goes up by 5 percent. The NAS estimated that CAFE laws are currently causing about 2600 deaths in one year.
But this carnage is not discouraging our carbon fetishist in chief. After all, blood on the highway can be cleaned up, but once an additional amount of CO2 is released in the atmosphere, it will stay there for centuries.