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September 10 2012

You Don't Always Get What You Pay For

Emily Wismer

“You can choose the path where we control more of our own energy. After thirty years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.”

Last week, President Obama mentioned his role in extending fuel standards for cars – so we can drive longer, farther, and cleaner for the energy we consume. While this may sound like a good talking point, the policy behind the rhetoric has backfired on the American people.

Take CAFE standards, or the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, which are regulations intended to increase fuel efficiency established during the Arab Fuel Embargo during the 70’s.

The Obama Administration has made those standards more stringent, with the goal of doubling gas efficiency in vehicles.  Sounds great to go twice as far for each tank of gas.  However, this extra efficiency comes at a large, up-front cost to consumers:  new cars can be expected to cost about  $2000 more because of this mandate. 

At a time when the auto industry is recovering from a giant government takeover and near bankruptcy, it seems unduly burdensome to price so many potential costumers out of the market by tacking on an extra $2000 to the base cost.

Furthermore, the final rule will saddle the car industry with an additional $156 billion in compliance costs and paperwork.

Yet the worst costs are borne by consumers. In order to meet these new requirements, many manufacturers are making their vehicles lighter.  A lighter car tends to be a less safe car, which means we will be paying for this mandate in human lives: the Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that for every 100 pounds a car’s weight is reduced, fatality will go up .9-2.21 percent.

While decreasing emissions is a laudable goal, increasing burdens on consumers and job providers while increasing crash fatalities is a cost too high. 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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