Line by Line: Activists lie in the NYTimes about the Trump rollback of the Obama fuel economy standards

This NYTimes op-ed from the self-proclaimed Safe Climate Campaign and Center for Auto Safety is debunked, line-by-line.

The NYTimes op-ed is below. My comments in [bolded brackets].

Trump proposal fact sheets are here.


The Myth That a Cleaner Car Is Less Safe Than a Dirty One
By Daniel F. Becker and James Gerstenzang
Mr. Becker and Mr. Gerstenzang work for the Safe Climate Campaign, a project of the Center for Auto Safety.
Aug. 2, 2018

To justify rolling back auto gas mileage and emissions rules, the Trump administration has fabricated a false conflict between safety and improved fuel economy. The administration is wrong. Americans must have both, and can. [We don’t need improved fuel economy for the sake of improved fuel economy. We are awash in oil and modern vehicles burn that fuel cleanly. The 1970s wants its crisis back.]

Encouraged by automakers to roll back President Barack Obama’s stringent fuel-efficiency rules, the administration unveiled a proposal on Thursday doing just that. [False… and its not good when you start out with such a falsehood. At best the carmakers are on the sidelines at the present. They don’t like the Obama standards or the California lead in setting standards but that doesn’t mean they want to rock the boat. ‘Cowards’ is a charitable term for describing the automakers. CEI’s Marlo Lewis describes the carmakers are the victims of Stockholm Syndrome for their lack of support for the Trump deregulatory effort.] Its preferred option: bringing progress to a halt by requiring no further mileage improvements in new cars and light trucks beyond 2020. [False. There will be no halt in progress. Instead, it will be consumer- and technology-driven, not mindless green activist- and crazy California-driven.]

As written, the original standard would cut tailpipe pollution in half and deliver a new-car fleet in 2025 averaging an estimated 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving, equivalent to about 50 m.p.g. in test conditions. [CO2 is not ‘pollution.’ Plants and human need it to survive.] It is the biggest single step any nation has taken to fight climate change. [No nation is fighting climate change. I have extensively documented this. Search “#ParisClimateHoax from:JunkScience” on Twitter. Moreover, the Trump proposal would only increase atmospheric CO2 by 0.08% by 2100. That is not a detectable change] The Trump plan would lower that average to 29 m.p.g. on the road and spew an additional 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, the key global warming pollutant, by 2040, according to estimates by the Union of Concerned Scientists. [Between now and 2040, manmade CO2 emissions will amount to about 1 trillion tons of CO2. So even if the UCS estimate is accurate (always a dubious assumption) 2.2. billion tons is rounding error.]

The administration’s plan cooks the books: It claims clean-car technology would cost far more than the Obama team projected. [Well, the technology to meet the Obama standards (other than jamming everyone into junky EVs) does not even exist.] It assumes that higher sticker prices for new cars will keep Americans in older, less safe vehicles. [That’s how consumer economics work.] And it predicts they will drive far more miles than in the past — 1.3 trillion more than an exhaustive Obama administration analysis forecast, thus exposing them to greater risk. [Consumers buy fuel-efficient vehicles because they want to drive more for less cost. Common sense.]

The administration is ignoring three central facts:

Savings at the pump greatly outweigh the cost of gas-saving technology. Because cars and light trucks would need less gas, an average owner would save nearly $6,000 over the life of a 2025 vehicle under the Obama plan, even after paying for the gas-saving technology. (Since the Obama targets took effect in 2012, consumers have saved more than $60 billion.) [Whatever consumers have saved (or not) since has nothing to do with the Obama standards since they have not been implemented. These calculations are all fantasy since the technology to meet the Obama fuel economy standard does not exist. BTW, I’m still waiting to save $2,500 per year on health insurance because of Obamacare.]

Consumers haven’t balked at buying cleaner vehicles with advanced technology, despite slightly higher prices. Even as the standard has grown increasingly tough, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has bragged of the industry’s “unprecedented seven-year growth trend.” The Consumer Federation of America reports that consistent new-car sales of nearly 17 million a year are outpacing the annual retirement of roughly 13 million older vehicles. [Consumers are buying more and more lower mileage SUVs. They are doing so by taking out auto loans as long as eight years.]

And, since fuel-efficiency rules took effect in the mid-1970s, the government’s own data demonstrate that vehicles have grown increasingly clean and safe. For more than 40 years, car companies have claimed that they could deliver efficiency or safety, but not both. Yet fuel economy has improved 88.5 percent over the past four decades while motor vehicle fatalities per miles have dropped 65 percent. [No doubt. But prior gains were low-hanging fruit. Non-fuel-related technology (air bags and ABS Brakes, for example) have contributed greatly to safety — compensating for the increased danger of smaller, lighter vehicles. Past progress is no guarantee of continued progress. Additionally, there is now no need to save fuel.]

The administration’s attack also plays on the myth that greater weight equals greater safety and ignores engineering improvements — lane-departure warnings, automatic emergency braking, and the increasing use of high-strength, low-weight steel and aluminum — that are saving lives today. [False. The administration line is that newer cars are safer cars, and that raising the price of new cars keeps drivers and their passengers in older and less safe cars.]

Compared with lighter vehicles, heavier ones “do not brake or handle as well and are more likely to roll over,” John German, a senior fellow at the International Council on Clean Transportation, told us. [Lighter cars have their drawbacks. Consumers should be allowed to choose.]

The stronger, lighter materials, which save gas by reducing weight, do a better job protecting a vehicle’s occupants because they absorb up to twice as much energy as conventional steel, and aluminum can be engineered to fold on impact, reducing crash forces. [Am all for cars being designed for improved safety. But the fuel economy tail should not wag the safety dog.]

“The standard is pushing automakers to use advanced materials and other technology to cut pollution and make us all safer on the road,” Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, told us. His group is affiliated with our Safe Climate Campaign. [No meaningful ‘pollution’ is being cut by lighter cars. Depending on where you live, your EV may be emitting more CO2 than a conventional car.]

This is auto mechanics, not rocket science. Ford proved that efficiency and safety go hand in hand when it converted the steel bodies of its F-150 pickups to aluminum. It lopped 700 pounds from America’s best-selling model and helped lift mileage by four m.p.g. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration upgraded the truck to a five-star safety rating, as it did all other aluminum-body vehicles it crash tested. [Great. What’s that got to do with needlessly trying to double fuel economy standards in less than 10 years? Past performance is not an indicator, much less guarantee of future performance.]

Fifty-five percent of fatalities occur in single-vehicle crashes, in which, for example, a vehicle strikes a bridge abutment or other stationary object. Smart engineering and technology, not increased weight, are the key to protecting a car’s occupants. So, according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety data, chances of surviving such a crash are better in a Chevrolet Volt, one of the most efficient vehicles, than in any number of much heavier gas-guzzling trucks. [Volts are junk. MY SUV is awesome. In just minutes, I can fill my tank and drive 500 miles in any direction in any weather, comfortably. I can then spend another few minutes filling it up and drive back. Try that with any EV.]

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, with the Environmental Protection Agency, plays a central role in determining the rules’ stringency. But the highway agency has a long history of protecting automakers instead of the public. [A ridiculous, ad hominem attack.]

Automakers, too, have a long history of fighting safety measures, objecting to requirements that they install airbags, seatbelt pretensioners and electronic stability to prevent rollovers. All are now standard features. [Automakers respond to consumer demand — which is different from government mandate. Competition also brings about beneficial change. No one wants bureaucrats designing cars. Also, the carmakers are on the sidelines in the current debate.]

When auto executives asked President Trump to start rolling the mileage rules downhill, they didn’t anticipate that he would remove the brakes. But his plan would increase pollution and costs at the pump. Facing potential public relations headaches, even automakers distanced themselves from it as the administration prepared the new rules. [Automakers only asked President Trump for flexibility in meeting the Obama standards — because the technology to meet the standards does not exist. Automakers did not ask the President to roll back the standards.]

The original standard would deliver cars and light trucks that are safer on the road and safer for the planet. If the Trump administration scraps it, both drivers and the climate will suffer. [Safety, the planet and climate will not be adversely affected by the rollback of the Obama standards.]

Daniel F. Becker directs the Safe Climate Campaign, a project of the Center for Auto Safety. James Gerstenzang is the campaign’s editorial director. [Please stop lying, guys.]