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The Sad CAFE By: Steven Milloy
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Obama administration’s proposed mileage standards that will be announced today may kill more Americans at a faster rate than the Iraq War, ­ his signature issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Obama’s standards will require automakers to meet a 35 miles-per-gallon standard by 2016, ­ four years earlier than the same standard imposed by the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007.

The only way for carmakers to meet these standard is to make smaller, lighter -- and deadlier cars.

The National Academy of Sciences has linked mileage standards with about 2,000 deaths per year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every 100-pound reduction in the weight of small cars increases annual traffic fatalities by as much as 715.

In contrast in the more than six years since the Iraq war began, there have been 4,296 deaths among American military personnel.

And what will be gained by the new mileage standards?

The Natural Resources Defense Council said that the 35 MPG standard would save about one million gallons of gas per day. So how does that savings balance against the 2,000 fatalities per year that the National Academy of Sciences says are caused by those same lighter cars?

For the sake of being utilitarian, let’s generously assume that the mileage standards reduced the price of gasoline by $1. That would translate to a daily savings of $1 million. Is that savings worth killing more than five people per day, plus other non-fatal injuries and property damage?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- for the purposes of risk assessment -- values a single human life at $6.9 million dollars. So the new mileage standards would cost about $35 million per day in human lives (not including non-fatal injuries) to save $1 million in gas.

There’s also another lesson hidden in the proposed standards, ­ one that applies to businesses trying to game global warming legislation.

Carmakers lobbied hard against overly stringent mileage standards in the 2007 energy bill, finally negotiating with Congress a compromise standard they thought they at least had a chance to meet. President Obama has now pulled the rug out from under the carmakers and their 2007 deal with Congress.

This ought to serve as a lesson for businesses that are trying to negotiate a climate deal they think they can survive. Rest assured that as soon as business groups agree to a climate deal, the Greens and the Obama administration will go to work the next day figuring out ways to bulldoze the deal in order to make greenhouse gas limitations more stringent and more expensive.

Businesses often operate under the misimpression that they can cut lasting, win-win compromise deals with environmental groups. But such dealing is an impossibility since the Green Left is ideologically driven and will not be happy until capitalism is stamped out. The Greens are not interested in compromise. Like blood in the water to sharks, compromise by businesses signals weakness and vulnerability, and, therefore, opportunity for the Green movement to impose an agenda that is costly in treasure, and costlier in human lives and suffering.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of the forthcoming book, “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Ruin Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.”

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